VIII. Easter Road My stomping ground is Easter Road, a place of withered leaves, stubbed butts, strewn rubbish, and the same squat bulldog lamp post tethered while his master buys a macaroni pie. A bookie’s, two booze shops, three options for tattoos, and a bakery with sourdough for £6 – can’t see that lasting, not for the Hibs fans, egg and bacon roll for soaking up the Deuchars is more like it. Cats here must be cheap to rescue, for the thrift shop down below sells three books for a pound, jumpers for half nothing and nick-nacks (you’ve guessed it, mostly cats) for less than 50p. IX. Abbeymount Tucked away at Abbeyhill are two short flights of steps. There, drunks share cider, homeless piss, sometimes an addict nests in temporary rest. Today, I passed a forlorn woman there, hair and words tumbling to where her tweed coat met her slender ankles. “You never open up, what’s happening?” Her lips inch-close to a waxen man, chin dropped and downcast eyes. He shrugs in place of words, to see where that might get him. Not far, I’d guess. If these two were a trailer for a film, I’d pay to go. I walk on past a long-closed school, now studio for artisans, wall-mounted post-box burnished brass: ‘SCHOOL LETTERS’ Each time I pass I want to feed it notes composed in ink (no blots), flawless, cursive swirls that say: Dear Miss MacKenzie, Please, don’t cane the children. X. Meadowbank Shopping’s a chore, bore, snore – more, more, more stuff! Meadowbank’s my nearest hit for retail. Canopied box-stores piled high, cheap everything I don’t need. Renton sneers in my ear: “Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, electrical tin openers.” (My God, that film is old.) A beggar shelters: street-aged, hunkered, cowl pulled up, head bent in prayer. He’s motionless. It’s him – I’m sure – my house guest! Then he lifts his hood and smiles wise eyes under red hair. ‘How’s it going, hen?’ I slip him coins, bid him well, leave him to share his Haribos with a one-legged woman in a wheelchair on her smoke break from the bingo. ‘Thanks pal.’ Nearby, the running track is strapped in woodchip hoarding, graffitied boarding. Street art – a cleaned-up, corralled, candied version, anarchy made anodyne. Squirts, sprays, splotches drained of energy, sucked free of rage, of angst, of roar; sedated art without a heart, fictitious as the child who sings a love song, all sugary confection, life shielded from calamity and rupture.
Extract from Edinburgh, A Long Poem
by Eimear Bush (September–October 2020)