Nine and Seven, one by one,
Lay face down on a home-made skateboard,

Hauling it forward, inch by rope inch,
Into the Tomb of the Eagles.

Seven glissaded down Maes Howe’s
Five-thousand-year-old chute,

Walked unbowed down its entrance passage
Whose stone slabs weigh forty-five cars.

Nine chased Nine with dog-track speed
Round Orphir’s circular kirk,

Dropped down rung after midnight rung
Metres into Wideford Hill.

Nine and Seven bounced and drummed
On the capstone over Brough of Birsay’s

Pictish well, where a jeweller worked
Decades before the Norse sauna.

After the sun this winter solstice
Does its light work in between

The low hills of Hoy, then Nine and Seven
Will never be sixteen again.

Near Auchtermuchty

High in treetopia, on the treetop walk,
I stare straight down the thick trunk of a beech,

Its brontosaural hoof splayed in the earth.
Whirligig beetles, roe deer, fang-eyed wolves

Animate Fife’s farflung woods and ponds.
Carnbo to Carnbee the pollen blows,

Scumbled with light. Walking up here, breezed on,
Eye-to-branch with sycamores, alert

To downdrafts or the slipstream of a squirrel,
I let my mind fill with yon falconer

Shouting and shouting to a blank blue sky
Until at last, just as he knew it would,

The Harris hawk comes from its other world
Beyond the human eye, senses his calling,

Stoops, and disappears back into view.

On Hereditary Slavery

A bicycling monarchy? That talk
Is wrong. We need to make them walk.

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