We floundered in language,

our own yet different.


Trying to blend into the background babble,

my family were warblers amongst

capercaillie drums.


I taught myself to change the clear birdcall of yes

to a deeper seated aye.  I tried to say the right words,

but they always sounded wrong,

too carefully pronounced, too shy.


Stuck up, they said, and English.


So strange to be disliked for the accent

of a country I barely knew,

a place I‘d never lived.


I learnt to love the Highlands, high lands that were not mine.

Sharp beauty, cold light across the hills

stretched like fresh sheets across a bed.


And when finally I left, crossed over

into England, her red brick houses startled

and surprised. Such difference just ten miles





Poem from ‘How Do the Parakeets Stay Green?’





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