Sheenagh Pugh lives in Shetland but also has many associations with Wales. Her latest collection is Long-Haul Travellers (Seren 2008) and a new collection, Short Days, Long Shadows is due out from Seren in 2014.
Days of November 2009
Short days, long shadows:
sun rising low skims the hill.
Mending, making good, days full
of outdoor jobs, folk
racing to finish before dark,
before winter. Angled light, always
on the edge of leaving. These days
when every little thing feels urgent,
unmissable, when all you want
is to hold on to a lit rack
of cirrus, the taste of woodsmoke
catching your throat, a sleek seal
slipping back under, the farewell
of geese, scribbled in black arrows.
Travelling with Ashes
On the outskirts of town, we passed a dead factory,
windows all gone and the light pouring through,
airy and bright, a red-brick filigree.
At a disused halt, the edge of the platform
had blurred back to grass, and willowherb grew
through gaps in the flags and the crumbling asphalt.
And crossing the bridge, the stretches of mudflat
shone like lead sheets as the tide withdrew,
not looking as if it were planning a comeback
to float the bleached boat, an empty ribcage,
bones standing out as old men’s do
when appetite’s gone and flesh is wreckage.
Rust in the scrapyard was engraving
on heaps of silver and black and blue
some cryptic message to do with leaving,
and sunlight’s morse sent answering flashes
off broken windscreens, a code he once knew.
Ciphers read clear, when you travel with ashes.