The winter light was still to hit the window,
and all my other selves were still asleep,
when, standing with this child in all our bareness,
I found that I was a ruined bridge, or one
that stood so long half-built and incomplete;
at other times I’d been a swinging gate,
a freed skiff – then this head dropped in the groove
of my neck, true as a keystone, and I fixed:
all stone and good use, two shores with one crossing.
The morning broke, I kissed his head, and stood.
Crusoe, One Year on the Island
I know what I’d say,
asked to decide,
between what the sand
and the wood hut
and the drystone wall
had meant for him:
it wasn’t the same life
with a different setting,
strange fruit, strange tree,
the old heart running –
But rather: the world
the same as always
but somehow, there,
his life found changed:
the forest gate opens
the same as a hundred doors
but a new voice calls,
and a new hand guides,
and a new heart strikes
where the old heart stood.
These poems are taken from Noctuary, the new collection from Scottish poet Niall Campbell. Written from his new home in Leeds, Campbell records with lyrical beauty and tenderness the experience of young fatherhood. He draws on the seascapes, myths and wildlife of South Uist, the island where he grew up which featured heavily in Moontide, his debut collection and recipient of the Saltire First Book of the Year Award and the inaugural Edwin Morgan Poetry Award.
Noctuary is published by Bloodaxe Books. There are several launch events taking place in April and May - check the publisher’s website for details.
The excellent Scottish Poetry Library has a page on its website about Niall Campbell, which includes audio recordings of him reading from his work.