There are people who know the world
in specifics – not gull, but black-backed,
(lesser and greater), black-headed,
common, glaucous and herring.
There are people who know the woods –
not trees, but oak, willow, hazel,
aspen, and lime, and not oak
but sessile or pedunculate.
There are people who learn the names,
the Latin, the genus, the cultivar,
making lists for countries and years,
and the life-list with all the ticks –
the bbjs, and the gaps they need to fill.
And then, there are other people
whose hands and eyes know everything,
who taste the wind for salt or coming rain,
who find the right leaf or root or berry
for health or flavour, without a word spoken.
There are people who know their gardens
like their family, their lawn like their own skin,
a new bird by the frisson the cat makes,
even before the stranger’s call
breaks into the grey still morning.
And who can tell us which of these
knows best, knows more, can teach,
protect or harvest earth and sky
and water for the common good?
Or shall we try for both, a lore
of senses, heart and mind at one,
where knowledge and compassion
are held in equal balance, equal trust?
Elizabeth Rimmer is Makar for the year 2016, Federation of Writers (Scotland).
I’m honoured to present her work here, and immensely touched this was written for me. Thank you Elizabeth, for an enduring feeling of joy.
Elizabeth was born in Liverpool, moving to Scotland in 1977. Her first collection Wherever We Live Now was published in 2011 by Red Squirrel Press. Her second collection The Territory of Rain was published by Red Squirrel Press in September 2015, and officially launched Feb 2016 at the Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh.
Her work has also appeared in Poetry Scotland, Stravaig, Northwords Now, Brittle Star, Gutter, and Drey, and on-line in The Stare’s Nest and Zoomorphic.
She blogs at www.burnedthumb.co.uk.