Na samhraidhean ud, choisicheadh Dad sinn

sios dhan eighre ann an Àrnol: sgrùdamaid

sgoid ’s propach ’s canastairean Castrol

GTX, a’ lorg portain ’s spitheagan,


tèataran beaga ghainmhich, a’ leantainn

àitheantan crùbach ar mac-meanmna.

Far a’ chladach, bhiodh faoileagan ’s stearnalan

nan ràpal mu chreagan ghuanach an eilean,


’s an sgarbh na shuidhe rag, iosal air a’ charraig,

na h-ìomhaigh ach a shùilean, ’s iad

a’ togail fàire barr caochlaideach a’ chuain

thar chlaonaidhean sèimhidh gach riof’.


S e dòirlinn, chanadh Dad, a th’anns an eilean.

Ach bha am muir an còmhnaidh a-staigh,

an eilean do-ruigsinneach, gun smal:

balg Manannán nan uain’-fhaire air a làn.


O Mhanannán, bastard Lír,

a dh’agairt muir, aigeal ’s tràigh,

leig leum ghlèidheadh an slige-

chreachainn-sa, ’s a dhlùth-thuairmse aimheil.



Those summers Dad would walk us

down to the shingle beach in Arnol:

we’d hoke through driftwood, bladderwrack,

bottles of Castrol GTX, looking for crab shells


and skimming stones, tiny arenas of sand,

following our imaginations’ thrummed commands.

Just offshore, gulls and terns bustled round

the shit-streaked cliffs of the island: shags


would sit immobile on the lowest rocks,

statues apart from their eyes, which scanned

beneath the shifting surface of the sea,

across the subtle, flicked, veers of the reefs.


The island, Dad would tell us, is tidal.

But the tide was always in,

the island immaculately out of reach:

Manannán’s bag green-guarding its fill.


O Manannán, bastard son of Lír,

who’d claim sea, seabed and beach,

let me keep at least this scallop shell,

its approximation of grief.


Peter Mackay is the author of Gu Leòr / Galore (Acair 2015) and From Another Island (Clutag 2010). He is originally from the Isle of Lewis, and is a Lecturer in Literature at the University of St Andrews.


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