Bruntsfield, Blackford Hill

XV.	Bruntsfield

Each Tuesday, I wait for niece and nephew
by Gillespie’s gates
where flocks of youths migrate.
A flow unstoppable, torrential surge
of students off to colonize, with laughter,
leafy laneways of this southside’s suburbs.
In pairs, in gangs, chatter erupts, calls of,
‘wait up!’, ‘see you, Cam’, ‘call me tonight’.

A lucky dip of styles from decades past,
with eighties flicks and frizz, wild curls,
and nineties floppy fringe. Look, she’s Bananarama,
he’s from Fun Boy Three, and that boy there, well,
he collected his clothes randomly: 
tumble drier, bedroom floor,
hooked upon the bathroom door.

Such raw and shiny gorgeous
teenage messiness. I will them to preserve
their bounce and verve, to never care too much,
to know what matters – “by such, by such” –
and not to throw away their happiness.

This was the template school for Spark, you know,
where Sandy, Monica and Mary tried
to figure out Miss Jean,
oh what a tousled mind,
who knows what made it tick,
what had her primed?

Today, I’ve leapfrogged four score years to days
when boys are at the school, who seem, somehow,
more innocent, oblique and lost – for now.

One boy’s afraid to cross the road between
parked cars. I stop and wave him over,
he’s hesitant. Someday he’ll meet a Sandy
of his own and dash into the road!

XVI.	Blackford Hill

Sunday evening, a set date in my week
for Blackford Hill. I meet my friend by the
Observatory. Brambles are spent,
shrivelled, the air is white wine crisp and chill.
I gulp down greedy slurps, quench a languid,
dry weekend.

I’ve been lethargic, in bed
with Lance (Armstrong), I tell her, she with Damon
(Albarn) she tells me. We swap drug habit stories
like we were there, as if we know the score,
then segue into allotments, peer through
railings onto Midmar’s raised beds: leeks and
cabbages, radish tops, glut of courgettes.

Swans on the pond.	Pause.
Birdsong from the trees.		Pause.
I tell her I am haunted.	Pause.
Is he your lethargy?		Pause.

Far off, in the eastern sky, a grey mass forms,
moves towards us, a biblical swarm.

Locusts.	Hornets.
We admire it. 			Pause.
Hypnotic horror of a terrible beauty.	Pause.
It’s just a cloud. 	Pause.

Whatever it is puts the dark half-circles under
my sapped eyes into dystopian perspective.

Extract from Edinburgh, A Long Poem

by Eimear Bush (September–October 2020)

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