Shetland Boys#2

By Hannah Green

I sit warm in the window to watch
The island boys, the Shetland boys,
Bringing the sheep across the waters.


Waters like glass,
Waters with the grace of storms soothed,
Waters like a veil between this life, and the hollow after -
Cold sea, receive me,
As you do those strong boys, sons of farmers with
Shirtsleeves rolled up,
Wading into softer seas, while I strike off,
Without purpose.


Kelpy pools are cold as bone,
Cold as what’s ancient, cold
As the bitter hue of here and now,
Whose sky is bright at midnight,
Whose mist curls over barren moorland hills
Like a shroud,
Like a sweetheart’s hand,
Like the shudder of both at once.


The crest of a curlew’s cry leaves me breathless
And gulls hang,
Sullen on the weft of the wind, whose seeing hands
Sift through their hair as the ungrazed grass,
The boys who lift lambs in tender silence,
As tongues speak waves and places like song,
Boys, closer to the earth and sea than I.


Aching valley, call me in,
Call me to rest among the cut peat and soft hollows,
Buffeted, broken, wind scour me clean,
Pull me apart like bleached bones on the beach,


Pure,
And forgotten.

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© Helicon Magazine 2019

University of Bristol