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Sheenagh Pugh

John Thomson, d 1618


You would have to know where he lived,

how his croft clung to a hillside

forty times its size, on sufferance.


To stand under meteor showers

and northern lights, under a sky so vast

it swallowed his voice,


to see daily the breathtaking sweep

of hills, green and purple breakers

of surging stone,


to hear the ravishing inhuman voices

of birds, water, wind. You would need

to look out from his land,


where the ocean glitters beyond what eyes

can bear, the view he shared with no one,

to understand John Thomson,


who, long ago, was strangled for seeking

the stable’s warmth and, with soft words

of comfort, making love to his mare.


Thumbscrew No 17 (Winter 2000/1)

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