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  • Writer's pictureKate Clarke


Updated: Nov 14, 2022

There’s a photograph taken with a neighbour’s camera

of you on McIlroy hill with your mother.

Her curls blowing into her eyes, she’s dressed for summer.

You - a young minnow - gripped tight. The town below,

a vague smudge of graphite

Later, when you lived 500 miles away,

pining for home, you sent me a song of McIlroy:

There’s a hill I used to climb, it ran away from me

I got to the top and chained it to my heart”.

Argyll rain scoured your windows in the dark.

McIlroy and the clay pits were the Dreamfields

of your childhood and teenaged years.

You and Terry Lowney, shooting the breeze

on this mulchy ground, of hazel and oak,

to the siren calls of kids, stranded down The Dip.

We brought our dogs here, and our jumpy, untamed rescue,

who relaxes in the darkest woods, melted into shadow.

We left her for the wet grass, to follow

her rake’s progress via cracking branches, and cartoon squawks

of roosting birds scattered like livid sparks.

We walked here often with my mother too.

She would point out fieldfare, butcher’s broom, holly blue.

You would file those names away, as writers do.

There’s the jewel of wood sorrel, gleaming like my birthstone.

And, reflective as a tear, the mirrored petals of a celandine.

The hut is long gone and the grass is higher.

Once a gaping monster’s mouth, The Dip, of course, is shallower.

For 70 years you walked here, for the boy you still held dear,

for dogs long gone, for your father and your mother.

And so, I will always come here.

Kate Clarke

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