Croy. Ee. Gaw. Lonker. Pit

Robert Crawford

Croy. Ee. Gaw. Lonker. Pit.
Croy: an animal pen, a rained-on pigsty
Snorting with mooning bums of bacon, snouts
Spike-haired, buxom, Pictish-beasty, rank.
Croy. Ee. Gaw. Lonker. Pit.
Croy. Once, dogging off a dig on the Antonine Wall,
Knees-to-chin in the back of a Beetle near Croy,
I eyed the triumphal arches of Castlecary’s
British Empire viaduct above
Turfed-over Roman barracks. Soil had sunk
Castellum, praetorium and via.
Then, en route to a plein air Latin milestone,
Illegally crossing the motorway,
The car stalled. That coachbuilder with Alexander’s Buses,
Spare-time diviner, dowser for lost wells and oak roots,
Revved the engine, stalled the Beetle again
Side-on in front of two great racing lorries.
All five of us, inside our billiard ball,
Unlearned language, trapped in a single breath’s
Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison
Watching those wall-cabbed artics bearing down
Horns blaring, AAAAAAAAAAAAAA,
Doing eighty. Then our engine started.
Ee: an eye, a loophole, a way out,
An opening for water, a delight;
Ee: the eye-opening silent noise of email,
That interruption from another world.
Croy. Ee. Gaw. Lonker. Pit.
Gaw: a Fife word for a drainage furrow.
I walk each day past rows of Pictish graves.
Fife Council’s laying mud-brown plastic drainpipes
Down the dead-straight leyline of a Pictish road.
Croy. Ee. Gaw. Lonker. Pit.
Lonker: a hole in a wall, a yett through which
Sheep may slip, or a burn, a stream flow under.
Every wall, from Hadrian’s to dry-stane dyke,
Longs for a lonker’s
Huddled, nervous rush of living fleece
Against its whinstane, a vindauga, a wind’s eye, a window
To see through, snow’s gurgling, flushing slainte!
Of ice-melt, babbling its lost language,
Baby-talking its way through the WHO GOES THERE?
Croy. Ee. Gaw. Lonker. Pit.
SPEAK ENGLISH! PLAIN ENGLISH! Naw …
Cry the orphaned hwll of Croy. Ee. Gaw.
Thrawnly as a couple long and long for a child,
Hopelessly, edgily, until their own stone opens.
Croy. Ee. Gaw. Lonker. Pit.
Pit: to dig holes, marking an edge.
Pit: a portion, or a piece of land, a homestead,
Pittenweem, Pitmillie, Pittodrie, Pittencrieff.
Pit: the only syllable we know
Was born from the obliterated Pictish language –
One landmark cross, perjink on a drowned spire’s tip
Whose minster’s carved beasts, whorls and crucifixes
Lie silted, sunk in a Fife-sized, flooded pit.
Croy. Ee. Gaw. Lonker. Pit.
Croy.
Ee.
Gaw.
Lonker.
Pit.