Child with Pillar Box and Bin Bags
But it was the shadowed street-side she chose
While Victor Gold the bookies based
In conquered sunlight, and though
Dair Road Licensed Grocer gloried and cast
Fascinating shadows she chose
The side dark in the shade of tenements:
That corner where Universal Stores’ (closed
For modernisation), blank hording blocked
Her view as if that process were illegal:
She chose to photograph her baby here,
The corner with the pillar box.
In his buggy, which she swung to her face.
She took four steps back, but
The baby in his buggy rolled toward the kerb.
She crossed the ground in no time.
It was fearful as Niagara,
She ran to put the brake on, and returned
to lift the camera, a cheap one.
The tenements of Caledonian Place neither
Watched nor looked away; they are friendly buildings.
The traffic ground, the buildings shook, the baby breathed
And maybe gurgled at his mother as
Smiled to make him smile in his picture;
Which she took on the kerb in the shadowed corner,
Beside the post-box, under tenements, before the
Bin bags hot in the sun that shone
On them, on dogs, on people on the other side
The other side of the street to that she’d chosen,
If she’d chosen or thought it possible to choose.
For the BBC 100 collection, recording used by permission of the BBC, read by the author for Stanza, The State of things on 11th August, 1992 - from Mr and Mrs Scotland are Dead (Bloodaxe, 2002) © Kathleen Jamie, 2002, used by permission of the author and Bloodaxe Books Ltd.