Tuesday, May 11, 2010

K is for Kilt

(any short, pleated skirt, especially one worn
by men in the Scottish Highlands)

Visiting Scotland we did crave knowledge
of our clan, our tartan, our heroic deeds.
All we got was Rothesay and the Serpentine
winding down a decent hill and washed
with drizzle. A pink umbrella drew attention
against the grey.

We Lowland Scots, Glaswegians, islanders
crossed the waters out of Ireland with
our bairns of unknown lords and men,
and not much else. There we stumbled
fell upon a sense of decency, home.

My grandmother at the age of eight knew
Australia was the next big crossing to make
found a man who agreed, packed her
woollen suits, good reasons, post-war gung-ho
to work in Savoy Hotel's Laundry.

The man would walk Carnegie to the City
at times, for work. You couldn't always afford
the train then. She bought the land in Rye
with water-wrinkled hands, and had him use
his carpentry trade to build a house.

Retired, he lost heart and died. She drank
port at night, refused to budge, watched
Christian TV Sundays, dispatched regret
but not her loyalty to a Soviet otherworld
a paradise lost.

She got out of here the year the Berlin Wall
fell, tolled a bell she couldn't bear to hear.
She left a tartan shortbread tin of odds and
bobs, but not a hint of kilt. Yet we watch
the Tattoo every New Year.

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