Four poems by Richie McCaffery

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© Gerry Cambridge

 
 

    Inversnaid

 

(for Chris Powici, & i.m. Helen Lamb)

 

The time I visited him before this
he still had a partner
and I had leave to be with mine.
 
He takes me on endless walks
in the hills and glens, like a dog
being exhausted so it sleeps, not pines.
 
We talk about our lives, pause to drink
in the scene, and find an old sheep fank,
its walls grog-blossomed with lichens.
 
We are shepherds with no flock, herding
only our errant thoughts. A few times
he says it will clear and level out –
 
my heart lifts a little again and again,
even if he’s only talking about the terrain.

 


 

    Elegy for a farmer

 

The local farmer died just the other day –
pneumonia – and the day before that
he delivered wood pallets to us
for my sister’s wedding – they’re still
there where he left them, propped up
against the garage, all splintery,
looking like some rube’s bier now.

He was doing heavy lifting right up
to the day his heart was drowned out.
He was a good, quiet man, but it’s hard
not to see the pallets and think we’re just
an Aeolian process, like the wind, moving
things back and forth until we are put
somewhere so safe we’re forgotten.

 


 

    Dumyat

 

Stef and I got to the top of Dumyat today
after years away. The peak is now
a memorial garden, the stones
made out of harder rock than any house.

They’ve paved the path uphill too,
you could get up there in a wheelchair.
The sun is still itself, old democrat
giving warmth and cancer equally.

But the world I knew is so altered,
everything has changed
apart from the things that really need
to change, like my outlook.

Dumyat flaunts its peak all the way
until you’ve nearly reached it, then it
becomes shy and hides. You lose sight,
but need to remember you’re still on track.

 


 

    The first hare

 

Alnmouth to London on the train
passes in a verdant blur.
Not long until I’m off again -
just can’t seem to get away
from always having to get away.

The Duke’s selling off his farmland
to the developers, so many
houses are cropping up
and still there’s nowhere
we seem to be able to live.

We move so much I sometimes
think we’re stolen goods, lives
not due to us we took nonetheless.
If we run out of space we’ll colonise
the space in all the empty promises.

I helped you spot your first hare –
the fact seems important somehow
now I see nothing that moves me
other than motion, under this early
morning sun, without you.

 

Richie McCaffery

About Richie McCaffery

Richie McCaffery divides his time between Ghent, Belgium where he lives with his Flemish wife and the UK. He has a PhD in Scottish literature from the University of Glasgow where he was a Carnegie scholar. He has had two collections - 'Cairn' (2014) and 'Passport' (2018) - published by Nine Arches Press. His essays on poetry have been published in places such as Studies in Scottish Literature, etudes Ecossaises, Scottish Literary Review and The Dark Horse. His poems have appeared in journals such as The North, Oxford Poetry, Ambit, The Times Literary Supplement and Magma.