Bay O’ Sandquoy by Lydia Harris


Bay O’ Sandquoy

Neil Cameron

walks from Chalmersquoy to Cleatonbrae,
enumerates 114 males, 121 females.
The spring of his pocket watch is slack,
the sole of his left boot has come away.

46 North Parish

South of the iron gate,
two rooms,
roof sealed with lime.

A starfish is washed up on the step.
Outside a platform of flags
prised from the shore.

The fields at the back dip and rise,
where the Scollays of Ha’gock
wear paths up to the brae, down to the shore.

The Pier

crawls from an outcrop
on tortoise legs,
part boulder part slab.
Barnacles thicken its joints
and one wedge has dived
into the sand.
High tide, it slinks
between banners of kelp,
kisses the bellies of seals.

Wren on the track to Sandquoy

her notes struck from glasses
in the press at Brough.

Her wings handles of a bowl
carved for the bridal.

The wind unspools her over gorse,
over the flags of the slap.

The Aurora Comes Home

George lowers the sails.
Euphane spreads the catch on the stones.
Sea wallops their door, sucks under the flags,
whispers into the sand at the base of the house.
She’s scratched her name over the hearth.
Wisps of hair pulled from her brush
bowl over the fields to Cleat,
past the pool, the base of the kiln,
across the ridge of brown weed.
The noust is full, the oars point to the moon.


After retirement from teaching, Lydia Harris made her home in the Orkney Island of Westray.

5 thoughts on “Bay O’ Sandquoy by Lydia Harris”

  1. I met Lydia’s work last year on Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese‘s wonderful course ‘ Our Hospitable Languages’… so inspiring. Lovely to see these beautiful examples of her work on The Poetry Shed.

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