Holyrood Park, Arthur’s Seat

XI.	Holyrood Park

Freedom reigns in Holyrood behind
the Queen’s big house.
Wide-open space,
grass to roam barefoot,
feed ducks, kick balls.

A woman in a leotard – small waist,
wide hips – attempts to wheel a hula-hoop
along her arm across her clavicle
and back along the other arm.
Every time, she fails.
I love that she doesn’t care one dot
to stand out in the park, a flop,
look daft for not succeeding.

Here nothing’s foolish,
not the Hari-Krishna dancers or the
man-boy up a tree who dangles on a
stretch of rubber, warped liquorice
body trying to get free.
Not the rap of bongo players
as they beat out broken rhythms,
or the frisbee flickers head-
long dives, slipping sideways glances to
the cross-legged girl who nonchalantly
watches from afar.

But who’s that sitting on the old tree trunk,
veiled in golden gloaming?
My watcher, unmoving,
like a branch of felled ash,
minding me, until the last.

XII.	Arthur’s Seat

Hush now, I retreat from all those
gathered on the lawn to walk the foot
of Arthur’s Seat in clockwise route.
St Margaret’s Loch, on further to
Dunsapie where the heron
stands one-legged and unflinching,
till with quick jerk neck jolt he lifts
and flies off overhead.

The summit’s packed, to climb it has become
the thing to do: seat, castle, royal yacht,
see the panda at the zoo. There’s cyclists –
so earnest with their padded bums and cleets –
and joggers, chatters, dreamers, schemers,
others, like me, out to see the sky.

Tonight, a plume of cloud booms in aggressive beauty,
Hiroshima turned orange. Fife’s far-off
hills are blue, the sky above a paler hue,
then more blue clouds explode
mountains tinged in irate red.

A sudden radiance, the light of death,
where grass and stone, puddles on the road,
revitalise like negatives exposed,
that late, sharp scintillating light before it goes.

And I am luminous.

It’s getting dark.
The bats are out.
I pick a worry,
gift one to each flitting wing I spy.

Extract from Edinburgh, A Long Poem

by Eimear Bush (September–October 2020)

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