A poem

A beautiful, terrible and evocative poem by Pauline Prior-Pitt from her book ‘North Uist Sea Poems


Grown men tremble when they meet,
have never seen, never felt
not in living memory, never before.
And they know storms.
Marooned in the blind dark,
never so long a black night
the sea rising, never before so high,
shuttering in across open fields
pursued by the frantic wind

Houses shook in the suck and push of it,
the smack of rain and the banging.
Not knowing what was banging,
walking from room to room with torches,
drowsing not sleeping, finding buckets
to catch water dripping through ceilings,
listening for the ebb for a slackening
which never came.

In the late dawn of cold morning,
tales are told of causeways fallen,
roads barred by boulders
shoals of seaweed swept inland
of roofs blown off,
of sheds fetched up on other crofts,
a slate through a window impaled on a pillow
an old woman afloat on her bed
and people up to their waists in water
and forty sheep flocked dead in a corner
and mile after mile of grass and black plastic
clinging to broken wire fences.

Never before such a torn island
and the west coast shoreline gnawed to the bone.

NORTH UIST SEA POEMS By Pauline Prior-Pitt


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