River Teviot, Borders, 2020

The Bridge Guest House is peeled
open, emulsioned walls
still hung with summer
landscapes, boys fishing,
bedroom doors politely closed
against the swell that excavates
my sleep, unearths the time
our neighbourhood was in the news
when mid-December gales tore off
a tenement gable end; we gathered
to gape at the doll’s house rooms
with G-Plan sideboards, cocktail cabinets,
suicidal mattresses teetering,
the cracked eye of a television set
looking down, my voice asking over and over
where are the people?

That year for Christmas I got a bungalow
with detachable roof, fold down front
and the Newtown Family set – married parents,
teenage daughter and monozygotic twins,
whose jointed limbs let them sit for dinner
(cheese fondue). They had a rocking horse,
badged school blazers, savings in the bank,
and shuffled round my neural networks
never sleeping; unwrinkled plastic faces
smiled with vigilance, always tolerant
of my boredom, the random soldiers
at the breakfast table or sudden hands
descending through the ceiling to drop
live spiders on the children’s beds;
they always knew the cataclysm would come.

Floods and thundersnow opened up
a sinkhole – they tumbled into their graves,
still cheerful, knowing that one day
the storms will be given names,
be brutal and constant
as old friends who rise from
the melting tundra to gather,
ready for reconciliation
with their weather gods.



Morag Smith is a poet and European Scot. Her short fiction and poetry have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Poetry Ireland Review, Crannog and Gutter. She is one of the Glasgow Mirrorball Clydebuilt poetry apprentices for 2019-20.