Poet: Julie-ann Rowell
Old Harry’s dead. The ones I love are
water through my fingers.
I look across to Copinsay as it recovers
from sea mist that’s stayed too long.
Harry brings in beremeal bannock slippery with butter,
insists on pouring the tea with his unsteady hand.
I’m in his sitting-room but Harry’s dead.
It’s Copinsay I’m staring at, a great ledge
of land, its lighthouse a cutting beam. No one
lives there. Harry’s house is waiting to be spotlit.
Researchers visit the island to count kittiwakes.
The house, croft-size, could stand for years,
Harry’s workshop too, or it might ruin.
He could fix anything. He never went to the other isles.
I gaze out at Copinsay and wonder about shelter.
It is rock, grass, kittiwakes. Why Harry
wasn’t interested about worlds and worlds and why
I never asked. I loved his hands at eighty-five.
Copinsay will remain on the list of rarely visited places.
I’ll pass Harry’s domain on the way home, on the corner
where it’s never been. Light burning in the sitting-room.
Except old Harry’s dead.
Julie-ann Rowell’s poem ‘Fata Morgana’, from Exposure her fourth collection, was Highly Commended in the Forward Prize for Poetry 20/21. She was also Highly Commended in the Bridport Prize Single Poem Category 2020 for her poem ‘Naked’. Her first pamphlet collection, Convergence (Brodie Press) won a Poetry Book Society Award. Her first full collection, Letters North, was nominated for the Michael Murphy Poetry Prize for Best First Collection in Britain and Ireland in 2011.