This is one of the poems from The Eurydice Rising sequence, which was published in poetry Scotland last year. It has a lot of Shetland references because I was originally inspired by the Shetland ballad King Orfeo, (it’s quoted in the first stanza), in which Orpheus is a piper, and actually gets Eurydice back. The title is also a Shetland reference. If you don’t want to tell where you got your bait for fishing you would say Sjussamillabakka or stakamillabakka – as non-committal as you could get!
Digging for Bait
Da notes o’ joy.
Da notes o’ noy.
Da god gabber reel,
dat meicht ha’ made a sick hert hale.
Between the sea and the shore.
Between the rocks and the shore.
Is where I got this poem,
On water-polished shingle, where the sea
Over ribbed and wrinkled sand
And popping bladderwrack.
I found it in a rock-pool, cold as shadow,
With a gull’s feather floating in it,
And a thin blue sheen of petrol
Hazed like a mussel shell.
The place without landmarks.
Don’t look back.
Never the same place twice.