Though born in Edinburgh, I spent much of my twenties and thirties drifting here and there across the globe, all very pleasurably. It wasn't until I stood in the Calvinist grip of a Scottish winter?s afternoon that I at last accepted my Scottishness. Since then I have rejoiced in it!
Near Linton Burnfoot
Tarred roads, metal cattle-grids and wheel tracks mesh
so tightly no land can escape. Tractor ruts
cut deep into the grass to cross and double-stitch
the fields together. Where the high ground pushes upwards,
pylons rigid with electricity stand guard
upon the hills. Bridges staple running water,
lines of fence-posts nail the valley sides in place.
Rain and ploughed mud. Rooks’ cries claw the air,
a banshee trapped in corrugated iron shrieks
to be released. Trees grasp at nothing,
and let go. It is a scene a child has painted,
splashing colours on sodden paper:
his carelessness might tear a mountainside apart.
Shingle being ground to nothing on the river-bed,
the clouds’ silence soaking into the hills –
these are secrets I dare not tell
even to myself. They give weight
to every moment of my life.
from Histories Of Desire (Bloodaxe, 1995), © Ron Butlin 1995, used by permission of the author