An Wi Whit Grace?

By Anne Shivas

Fish-hook sharp,

lochan deep,

she holds her peaty vision

dark in the pupil

of her eye,

no reflected sky.


Jet and far as space,

as full of light,

the gleg n spark,

Scottish child

div ye ken yer place

in the universe?

Faar’s hame?


Ye hiv tae keep sayin

it’s aricht

it’s nae sae bad

whit wis hale

wisnae ever broken.


Here, hame, you know

the lie of the land.


The warld unfurls


like a bolt

o fabric

in Remnant Kings

or a wind-whipped Saltire.


Fan she wis a fish

a flick o her tail

freed her.


Now she’s looking back

tae afore 1707

mebbe een tae

a Pictish time

three thoosan years ago.


Doon deep

in the Caledonian wood

whit a bonny


the adder coiled

asleep on sun-lit

path, nae feart,

though watchfu,

through its peaty eye.


An wi whit grace does it uncoil itsel,

lead head first in lang successive loops

intae the thick grass an tangle o hawthorn

aneath the muckle an zagging oaks.


Scottish child,

ye hiv tae pay attention,

tak care an mind how ye go,

ask: fit ails ye?




In the Scottish crown, seventy-nine Tay pearls—

oysters fished for years by traveller folk,

displaced from Stuart-loyal glens, forced

to find a wandering living, forbidden

from ever owning lands, getting settled.




A crows parliament perched on parallel

wires above the London line bridge

as we went under on our way to Athelstaneford.




Come Hame


We took American Mary’s ashes to Glenshee—

blown in the wind over thistle, heather,

a rainbow bent to each end of the burn’s

curve, formed a circle of light and water

as shadows of clouds moved across bright hills,

fast passing, shifting atween sun and smirr

of rain. She wis aye lovitt by the land.