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Two Poems

The Beach

Now this big westerly's
blown itself out,
let's drive to the storm beach.

A few brave souls
will be there already,
eyeing the driftwood,

the heaps of frayed
blue polyprop rope,
cut loose, thrown back at us—

What a species—
still working the same
curved bay, all of us

hoping for the marvellous,
all hankering for a changed life.

The Longhouse

Who lives here? Don't
you remember that hill? How it
shut out any winter sun—
or those ash trees
sheltering the gable end?

Hefted to its own land
like its few yowes—

Today the wind's swung north—
in overcoats and headscarves
two women are crossing the yard

As if yoked together,
they stall and turn to face us—

and though you look
from one to the other,
one to the other,
you just can't tell

which is daughter, which mother . . .

This is what happens.
This is why we loosed our grip and fled

like the wind-driven smoke
from the single lum
in the crooked roof that covers
both women and beasts, a roof
low and broken like a cry

Kathleen Jamie

The Overhaul

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