I leave the Irish Sea, spring past Kintyre
hungry for the Corryvreckan’s rush -
I know where I’m going. Start the giddy vortex
waltzing Scarba’s schist, fanned like bellows up to cliffs.
Headstrong through I plunge the narrows, winter’s shawl
gulls back-pedal, panting dolphins race me
lazy seals are flotsam in my suds of sweated foam.
Skerries shed me, making shelves for cormorant’s green ranks
stretching dry their swimming-wings yellow iris
watching out for slack.
The Great Race, a brace against the wall of swell
fetching from Cape Breton thuggish lumps
to slug it out against my lunar thrust.
The shudder summons selkies, seaweed tresses
flying, stretching white-caps’ skin, sharpen
diamond crests to fissures, boats to fall between.
Relax as whirlpool’s roar recedes. Mull’s Torran
Rocks begin to comb me like a whale baleen
washing Robert Louis’ lighthouse Dubh.
Kidnapped bays, turn North and green
shunt black ferries crossing me
shrug Iona’s pull.
Minch. Rough trough that’s piped with
cuillin. The archipelago
Reek of peat. Music beats like me
a thick-lipped dark-haired girl stands singing
on a strand that I’ll soon claim.
She has more words, seòl-mara, to describe me
wind or rain, speckled shades of bracken brown
lichen yellow, where, I finger slits of lochs.
Caolas na Hearadh is my last diurnal game
shifting sand, making red buoys lean
trickle while a shower of gannets spear me.
Land and fathoms fall away. Flooding free
my Flannan secret eddy. Sunstars blue
balls of silver herring mackerel quiver.
Volcano foothills rise, their distant rim
St Kilda’s jewel anemone, the place I want to
reach. Denied when moon, my compass, spins.
Sulking south I show blue mussels, give the coast
a seaweed hem; laughing clouds of oystercatchers
drilling in my wake.
Swept on strong Atlantic shoulders, speeds slack-water sleep
dreaming gaelic lassies’s incantation
I collide with Donegal.
Discard her words above the dark high-water mark
around the toes of sleeping terns. Kintyre’s beacon
winks. Sun’s behind me. Neaps.
I’m on the turn again.