Aonghas MacNeacail: ‘Primula Scotica at Yesnaby’


In Memoriam Barbara Grigor, Margaret Tait


so small the flicker of a searching
eyelid easily might bruise the life
from it this fragile little flower grows
here where winds are long and
salt and harsh where no botanical
calvin would have chosen earth so
rigorous so sparse to kneel on yet
still it blossoms here above those
fractured cliffs those brutal basting
smiling waters in summer storms
the air it breathes is stiff with brine
this whit of life still flowers every
tiny purple radiance is lambent
in the blood of time this fragile
little flower grows only here and
on that other ledge across the firth
it could have chosen lusher glens
instead of here the bleakest edge
its season short raw winter long
and sleep exposed to breaking
frost or suffocating snow but then
when all that’s left is memory
a film a membrane thin as breath
as small as if reflection of a
distant star fine miracle it blooms

Originally published in The Orcadian, 17 May 1999