Praise for As the Women Lay Dreaming:

'A powerful novel… A poignant exploration of love, loss and survivor’s guilt.'
Nick Rennison, Sunday Times

'It’s the kind of book you want to read again as soon as you finish it,
because you know there is so much that will be revealed on that second reading.'

Alan Massie, The Scotsman

Header image

ONE GOOD REASON TO REMAIN IN LOCKDOWN
(inspired by Colum McCann’s ‘Apeirogon’)

It is safer to stay still.

Migrating birds are often killed
by everyday obstacles.
Such as steel pylons, the chill
of unexpected snowfall.
High windows.
Crops that either rot or fail.
Sandstorms. Occasional oil-spills.
Poison. Overflowing drains.
A jagged, rusty nail.

All reasons why it’s wiser to remain
like the blackbird, starling, sparrow,
birds that rise and dip,
gorge and peck their fill
among the trees that grow
just beyond the space where I write,

outside the window-sill.

 

HER LIFE IN QUARANTINE

Throughout lockdown,
she welcomed round

departed friends and relatives
who arrived with gifts

of small talk
following a short walk

from the local graveyard.
They all agreed that life was hard

these days,
remaining in one place

with no prospect of escape
from the boundaries of the village,

until one corpse (long still) declared
‘I never went anywhere

during all my time above ground.
Not even a quick spin around

the borders of the island.’
And so he failed to understand

the whole sad substance of her complaint,
as all his days of life and death he’d suffered

a similar confinement and restraint.

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