Poem of the Week: ‘The Callanish Stones’ by Nikki Robson

  20 Jun '22   |  Posted by: Birlinn

The Callanish Stones in Lewis are one of Scotland’s oldest manmade structures, and many people visit them at sunrise on the summer solstice in the hope of a glimpse of the legendary being known as the ‘Shining One.’ In the anthology Other Worlds: An Anthology of Scottish Islands Poems, Nikki Robson articulates the experience of visiting these ancient monuments with humour in her poem ‘The Callanish Stones.’

The Callanish Stones
July. Summer on the island
muffles in scarves.
Merino-socked, Berghaus-booted,
swap cocoon of car
for hilly slither. Pilgrim-trail
with sodden strangers,
step in time to the cadence of rain.
White-trainered Americans patter: there isn’t a bus,
Earl, I can’t believe there isn’t a bus.
Even taped seams leak. Cold as
Lewisian gneiss, circle
the circle of Neolithic ritual.
Reach out, for Callanish grants
what Stonehenge forbids:
it feels like wet stone.
On the downhill squelch,
the final syllable’s a sneeze.
I buy a fridge magnet.

- Nikki Robson
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