Sally Evans' last book was Bewick Walks to Scotland published by
Arrowhead in the North of England. She is editor of Poetry Scotland.

For Douglas Clark

Although we don't recall an overlap,
we owned the same secret land
of County Durham,
flat, unregarded, whale-shaped,
filled with vivid pink flora
and plover ridden wastes

a world to make what we could of
like the wider one,
a world with an underclass
of the clergy and landowners
where the length of farm tracks
and number of badger setts
height of ash trees
or thickness of Woogra Wood
were things that counted.

It is odd to think
we were children in neighbouring villages
when the memories are not of being children
but of the fresh angst of artists,
of libraries plundered,
of country words dipped deep in poet's ink.

Our bicycles upended
in the same country lanes
where we struggled with hedges
in clay and leaf-fall,
Treasure Island
under Bishopton Bridge,
or a Stillington steam train
snorting in darkness
and the haunted interiors
of rag rugged farms.

'Don't send me poems any more'
you said last year
but this year you said
'Send your Durham poems.
Don't forget.'

In the Low House

In the long autumn
thin leaf holds to twig,
flower to stem,
gold-red berry to cluster.

In the long autumn
cloud clings to mountain,
white swan to river flood,
salt spray to the cliff.

In the low house
they have cut backthe roses,
they have piled up logs
and stored apples and wine.

In the low house
amid crystal and velvet
the old film begins
and they settle to watch it.

The geese fly by
and the sky is crimson
as the last roses crumple
unseen through the window.

The geese fly by
and the sky is silver
as over the roof steals
the first fall of snow.

The Water gardens of the Villa D'este,
from the Trossachs

Greenness of stone steps in sun,
parades of gremlins in the rain,

crowds of statues, dark leaves, stone,
water, outwards and upwards thrown,

combined to set a garden-star
that stayed with me till Callander,

where, wet with torrents from the crags
herbage expands where verbiage lags,

and showered petals link their songs
with choreography of stones.


Let's go pick blaeberries again,
strong, dark, sweet blaeberries

that lie in lairs
as though they understand
the country's dangerous.

They hide dark wine-blue hue
among mild red-green leaves,
on slopes that stalk the sun.

Let's spend an hour or so
pretending we live like this
always, provisioning

this fruit we breakfast on,
freeze down, consume as pies,
juice thickened by heat,

sweetened with honey. Shy
on high braes of July,
blaeberries, earthy.

Let's go pick blaeberries.
Let's go seek, let's go early.

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