Jane Burn – The Westray Wife

The Westray Wife

Yeu had sleipt, fowr thowsand ages rund,
quietlik till sum body wonne yeu fra the airth.
Yeu wes fownde, a treasure brought tae licht.
I ken yeu have strang ee-bres, frowned into an M,
that yeu are sized fae the holding o’ a hand –

palme-nested body, thoum-straiked heid.
Preciouse, yeu are – not tae much fingered, not
tae scourie. Beryit in the midden o’ a fallen hous,
we guess at who yeu might have been and why
yeu wes dishantit. I think yeu are a copy

o’ the wedow who werked the ferme. I think yeu
wes pouerful rownid , thows big from hewing
oot the walls, lugging stane, fattering barlie, howing peat.
Yhur body, formit lyk a stack grew stout as you beamed
yhur wyntir-store, block by sorpy, bog-smell block,

grew stouter yhit with bairn after blossoming bairn
fae yeu wes fertil, Orkney Venus. This is how I see yeu,
muther-love and peedie kelties clinging tae the traff
of yhur thick-knyt shawl. Against yhur bosum, the oon
unthriving, keening lyk a thine byrde – the othirs

tareesin aboot and yeu, stuggering, boom-lung, hidder ye cum!
Yhur sawle is riflet upon yeu – sumquhill yeu wes worschipped,
nowtched with magick, ydoll o’ the hilland, has-been fae a time.
I see yeu nou, captive o’ the glass. Twa, if I cownt yhur reflection.
Galdragon, the auntient sint of legeand quirls abute yeu still.


Jane Burn’s poems have featured in magazines such as The Rialto, Under The Radar, Butcher’s Dog, Iota Poetry and many more, as well as anthologies from Emma Press, Beautiful Dragons, Emergency Poet and Seren. Her pamphlets include Fat Around the Middle, published by Talking Pen and Tongues of Fire published by BLER Press. Her first collection, nothing more to it than bubbles is published by Indigo Dreams.

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