A Song for Sandy

 A Song for Sandy

i.m. Alexander Hutchison (1943-2015)


Of course, there may be swans

on the Kelvin now, kingfishers if you

close your eyes and dream in blue –


sleepy heads breathing sweet summer sun.

Sadly, too soon, all this has gone

downstream to spangled reed beds


where small fish keep their cool and you know

what will be true and when

fresh water will smack of salt again.


And, yes, lies will not sink the truth, left

to good salt, little by little

until our aching ayes will sea


dancing waves of possibility, blue horizons

burnt and turned to ash in our hands.

We’re fired-up on potash and smashed shells –


old smut scored onto sandstone rows,

broken fingernails scrabbling to unpick truth

and a glitter of mirrorball moon on the water


watched quizzically by a heron

who hopes for the scales of a thought

but not as much as he hopes for a meal


like the poor gleaning our city for food and respect

and a cloud in the shape of a cloned starfish

grows out of the head of a man crossing the river.


Night is staining the edges of the sky,

a tie-dye throw cast on the horizon

scattering shattered diamonds above our heads,


drawing us back in and together

to map out our spinning wheels of fortune.

Our weans ask: is this in real life?


And, enigmatic, we reply:

the real of life is elsewhere’s dream.

Wake up, even if you’re not asleep


fish suppers, mince an totties are still on the go

and you can still die with a promise or a prayer,

die tied to winter, in salt-stained leather


buttoned to your weathered neckline

as much yourself as the bin-shed crow

as much the crow as the croak-throat gull, diving


inside the meniscus of life’s envelope.

So it’s all back to yours – where the secrets are kept

secure and safe as dawn.


In the pause between exhaling & inhaling

there’s a space for words to form

in the transfused marrow of your ageing bones,


in the living grace of your roomy heart –

to hear that one tune whistled again.

These are all songs he would sing


found in a Blackbird’s songbook,

carried in summer’s gentle breeze –

gathered in by an ear at the river’s edge.