Ould Orkney Hooses
I like owld rueens in the country stone wans, widden wans, metal wans they speak tae me Tae some thir a blot on the landscape trim hid up ur knock hid doon set light tae hid Roosty corrugated roofs catch me eye contrast wae blue an green sky through holes Peelan pent flaekan off a door draas me closer, layer on layer texture an culur Sage moss on saggan slates precarious on crumblan waals orange wae lichen Stone lintil supports a chimley breest knotty widden wan abune the open door binder in the yard So minny untelt stories whaur did they aal go? dream an imagine
Barbara Johnston, February 2021
Photographs: Barbara Johnston
The Seasons – Ingrid Grieve
Whit I like aboot spring Spring colours blue, green, yellow Daffodils, shinan oot like peedie suns tae cheers iss up defiant in the face o all a harsh voar can throw The first shout o ‘the swallows are back...open the garage door' The promise o longer days And the hope o warmer wans too Gittan the washeen oot in a good sook o wind The clocks gan forward and it's light enough efter tea tae git doon tae the ebb Buds on trees Nestan birds The peedie wren singan his hert oot (bit no startan at 2 in the morneen) Gangs o lambs playan games Plooed fields Breer fields The kye gittan pit oot and gan clean hysk Plantan tatties and neeps and kennan that this year a’ll keep up wae the gerdeen and the ervo, tirso and dog flooers are no gan tae git the better o me Whit am no so keen on The swallows mess in the garage Cowld when it should be warman Lambeen snow East winds and needly rain Whit I like aboot summer Summer colours Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet Long days Warm days Sunsets at Kirbister Loch Fields o long gress wavan in the wind mussa-kruppen among the heather Baby birds at the feeders Honey Bees, bumble bees on curly doddies, trowie gloves, yule girse Tatties and neeps coman up Bere fields Barley fields No hivan tae lukk fur a cott (bit takkan wan jist in case) Whit I don’t like realisan that the ervo, tirso and dog flooers among the neeps his gotten the better o me again Wasps Klegs A bonny night spoiled by midgies East winds and needly rain Whit I love aboot Autumn Hairst colours, ochres, rusts, olives and purples Barley fields Bere fields Dark clouds and golden light The soond o an ott field blowan in a hushle o wind Combines gan flat oot tae git the hervist in afore the wather turns Dookan fur apples A penny fur me pop Tulimentan nights Trimsan seas Glettan skies The fire lit for the first time in months Coorteens closed Bake off I dont like East winds and needly rain I like winter Colours o blue, black, grey, and white wae splashes o red in sunrises, sunsets, robin breasts and dog wid A coorse night when wur cosy in aside the fire A run up west efter a Northerly skreever listenan tae the runge o the sea and watching the the whaal backs duck and dive in the dowdoswang I like sharp frosts crunchy snow, mittens, toories and snowmen The low yellow light ower the Flow A sudden glett through a stormy sky in a day o hellyiefers addan strips o colour tae sleepan fields Bare branches against blue-grey skies Mirry dancers Moon brochs Snowy gaamfers Christmas lights and eerie orams tae brighten up mid winter New Year wae the hope o better things tae come I don't like Warm winters East winds and needly rain
Photographs to go along with her poem by Ingrid Grieve
Marina by Lorraine Bruce
The watur culur sun splashes oan wind vanes, flashan in sync high ubun the decks whar the whitemaas dance. Rock-a-bye bots whistle a selkie maelody, an’ sweengan halyards tip-tap the rhythm oan swayan mainsail masts. A lazy Northerly swael rolls in by the breakwatar while shimeran hulls tug oan thur tethurs, tormented bae the push an pul o’ the sea. Lorraine Bruce September 2020
The Fast Train to Papay – Lorraine Bruce
Wan fine day in the middle o June Wae the snow lyan thick under a pandrop moon. Wae heeded off fair excited an happy Fur wae hid a ticket fur the fast train tae Papay Wae took wur sates an strapped wursaels in, Wettan an watchan fur the fun tae begin The whistle blew or id could a been reed Bit I ken wae set off at a hael o a speed The fursht thing wae saw wis Tammie Norrie Dansan a queek step wae a lafan scorrie They twirled among the merry dancers up high Green and purple dresses flittan cross the sky The next thing wae saw wis a scabby mans heed He wis wearan a coolie made oot o sea weed Then came a whitema playan a fiddle Dansan a polka and singan in riddles Noo a partan wae saw wae ur castanets clappan Shae wis keepan the baet wae hur muckle toes tappan A Skeldro wis playan a tune on the pipes While jugglan three buckies, a caeth and two snipes Thur wis a skarfie hingan his sleeves oot tae dry He hid gret treacle wallops aboon peedie black eyes A selkie wis playan wae a muckle snorry bone Made fae some simmans an an owld mill stone Next came Scooty Alan alwis luckan fur a fight Some say ee’s a pirate, some say ee’s clean gite Then a spoot wae a boot oan is wan good feet Tripped um up an kittled um, an made the poor lad greet Wae soon came tae Papay, brecks skrekan tae slow is doon Hid id only been ten meenits since wae hid set off fae the toon A bress band started up is wae stepped doon fae the train And Doondies dressed in silver passed roond glesses o champagne The finest maet wis served up, thur must hiv been ten courses Thaen wae paraded roond the island on the backs o peenk sea horses Thur wis castles made o bannos and lochs o home brewed ale Dykes o fattie cutties an a bridge made oot o kale Wae got back tae the train is the sun wis goan doon Happy and exhausted wae heeded fur the toon Afore wae kent it wae wur back and gittan off again Am never seen a train is fast is that fast train Life is too short and thurs such a lot tae see If yu work too hard hid’ll drive yu ree In yur life yu should dae things that mak yu feel happy Why no tak a trip oan the fast train tae Papay?
This Island – Sheila Garson
This island with its sandy ribbons its cosy geos its busy craigs its endless wave-torn shore This island with its mysterious grassy howes its hidden brochs its resting places its ancient, curvilinear homes This island with its white, snowy swan its tern swoop its curlew call its skein of feral geese This island with its field neatly squared its road long its ditch deep its farm set to a grid This island with its kye grazing contented its seal basking its otter hidden its sheep and folk entwined This island with its soaring Disney castle its Douche folly its gas tower its past cast in stone This island with its village by the shore its helping tide its sheltered bay its cave, a dark delight This island with its face raised to the sun its heart warm its soul kind its soil, a welcome home. Sheila Garson May 2021
Photos in slide show Sheila Garson
The Resting Place – Vera Butler
No one did I ken in that kirkyard They stood aloof in thir weel tended lairs A place o comfort for many but not for me. We met beside the kirkyard wall Some folk I kent, some unkan tae me, walking the road tae the shore, a distance between us no only in feet, my accent broadest of all. The shore when reached ower gress and stones wis a place o beauty and serenity in this mad world, the Hoy hills so near I could almost reach oot and touch thim. Comfortingly close tonight. The film crew – weel a slight exaggeration! – guided us throo the movements, and laughter and sadness mingled beside the cowld blue-black sea. Fingers numbing wae the sinking sun Oil lamps and torches noo lit for the final shots, a feeling of bonding taegither tae dae wir best. Wid George feel this love o his wark vibrate throo rock, gress and earth tae his eternal bed? Or wis he here wae is? So here I stood on Warbeth shore as Kittag, waiting and hoping beside the dark sea that my man Peter would be washed ashore and I would find him dead, dead like my feelings for him. Only then could my life start again, without fear and toil and sadness. Hid felt that night like we stepped back in time something so timeless in a wey the power o the sea, the hills o Hoy darkening and looming bigger the darker it got. The rhythm o the waves broken only by the caall o the eider ducks silhouetted against the dying light in the west as they cam home tae roost. And there we stood reluctant tae leave till the cowld made is shift. Torches and lamps lit wir path and voices and accents mingled taegither as we cam tae the kirkyard wall, and whar before I thowt I kent no one, I stopped and whispered thank you tae a man I'd nivver met.
(Earlier in 2021 Vera Butler was cast as Kittag in the St Magnus Festival’s production of The Storm Watchers by George Mackay Brown. They filmed one scene on the shore at Warbeth, near to where GMB is buried.)
Ode Tae Me Cock
Aye weel ye might glare at me, me handsome owld boy, bit yir lukkan yer age, there's no mistake and weel past yer use by date. I need a younger model, a different blood line, and I doot yiv reached the end o yir time. You've strutted your stuff for many a day, dazzled and kept us amused wae your antics as king o the yerd Dinna luk at me so, as hid’s brakkan me hert to see you gettan owld and frail Yer crow more a squawk in yer throat and the feathers fallin out o yer tail. The lasses all gether aroond, dae they sense sometheen's amiss? I reach doon tae grab you, a flurry o faethers an I cradle you closs tae me breist. I plant a wee kiss on yer heid. Forgive me I whisper as I bend doon and tighten me howld on yer neck chist as me granny used tae dae I thraw yir scrawny owld neck Noo all is quiet, the deed is done. the lasses go fendan for worms while I'm left wi notheen more tae dae bit tae bury me poor deid cock.
Come a Wak wae Me – Greer Norquoy
Along the road the daffodils aer past their best Doon the Gaitnip track a bee buzzes by White sheets flap and crack on Linda’s claes line A pair o’ oyster catchers fly in unison ower the field o’ breer The rutted tracks that were puddles a month ago Aer noo dry footprints in cracked relief. The vast translucent Mediterranean blue sky contrasts Wi’ a deep whale blue sea The tide is oot, the beds o’ kelp glitter in the efternoon sun. Daisies, lesser celandine, yarrow, soldiers wound wort Pepper the tufted gress beside weel trodden Paths devoid o’ vegetation. No sign o’ picky ternos at The Castles yit bit Two eider drakes squabble ower a lone female Mallimaks sit singly or in pairs Their raucous caals echo on the Skiba Geo cliffs While ithers freewheel on the updraft like kites Larks chorus, peedie specks hoveran high above. The shore road on the wey back is dry and dusty Dandelions makan their first appearance along the verges Sheeps wool clings on tae the shire wire fence Half an ‘oor o’ blissful solitude, a daily tonic.
O me luv is like a peedie flooer That grows near Yesnaby O me luv is that peedie flooer That’s sometimes herd tae see. Luv is like Primula Scotica Weathereen storms aye gaan by Five hert shaped bluish, purple petals Aroond a bright yelloo eye. No wan fur gret big shoowey blooms Bit wae a beauty none the less A rare example o’ the luv Fur which I hiv been blessed. An’ jist like is hid thrives ower weel Abune the gressy shore An’ I will luv thee still me dear Fur noo an’ evermore.
Twice Blide – Issy Grieve
We hae eens fae aff, comman tae bide They phoned and telt is, my we were blide Taakan thir car, they’ll be oot and aboot Just a bed really, hid ill be grand, no doot. Thir comman the morn! For whit a steer Makan the bed, and gan daft dittan oot Me message list is long, of coorse they’ll need fed Wae fancy cooked breakfasts and lemon drizzle kek Sausages, bacon and egg, and plenty o toast The notion o airbnb, long since lost More messages yet, rung up at the till Fancy dinners, hids like feedan a mill Thir gann the morn, thank the lord for that Am knackered wey speakan, cookan and bakan Me dishwasher thinks, am clean lost the plot Hids been fill and emptied, a helluva lot. We haed eens fae aff, och hid wis fine Bed claes are washed, oot on the line Me auld claes are on, salt fish for wir tea Blide thir on the boat, crossan the sea.
Between land and sea The well worn track Trod by generations Is here I stand, slightly back From rugged edge With undercut cliff The grass horizontal Is where I stand, slightly back The billowing waves Crash and roar Sea spray rises Is why I stand, slightly back The guillemots cry Puffins avoid attack Bonxies swoop and soar Yet still I stand, slightly back The Atlantic pulse Draws you near Forgets your attention Is hard to stand, slightly back Someone take my hand Nature’s magnetic pull Lures you closer Please hold me back