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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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The Goose

 

 

 

Alec Airlie lived at the Roadman’s Cottage

by Colvend, last in a line of flinty

independent men responsible

for keeping edges tidy, painting signs,

patching cracks & holes on roads

laid over tracks dug out of paths

made from trails tailing off into

the mists of Gallovidian time.

 

His nickname was presumably to do

with waterfowl, perhaps an echo

of dark men in little boats rowing

cautiously through foggy Solway mornings

armed with nothing more than net,

barrel, sinkbox, a pocketful of shot.

 

This goose was grounded, though no less

prone to flights on lines of instinct–

chasing the chancer harrying McClellan

the farrier’s elderly sister at Sandyhills,

sorting out interlopers pockling

Wattie’s fat stake nets down at Portling,

herding kids like cats through a blizzard

to school when the teacher had lost herself.

 

One night, after stealing a wheen of neeps

from a field outside Dalbeattie, The Goose flew

his final flight, louping the old stone dyke

into nowhere & the path of a speeding car,

lost & becoming himself that part of a byway,

that straightened bend, that road of path

of trail tailed off into old pathless Galloway.


                                           -Stuart A. Paterson

 



Pockling – cheating/stealing

Wheen – a bunch

Neeps – turnips

Louping – jumping

Dyke - fence