February 3, 2009
Among our many lovely tasks, picking poems for the Saturday Scotsman ranks highly. How it works is, each month a poem picker among the SPL staff picks a peck of pickled poems for the month ahead. These are based on themes, new arrivals (a gratefully received number of which come from Scotsman HQ), events or landmarks we want you to know about. The poem, or cunningly selected extract, should be no longer than 20 lines, and should be accompanied by a little preamble of roughly 50 words. It’s lovely when people who’ve seen the Saturday paper phone or email the library seeking to borrow the book or find out more about the poet.
We’ve just received Natural Mechanical (CB Editions) by J O Morgan and I’ve spent a glorious afternoon reading it trying to pick just 20 lines. It’s ‘a rendering of the true life stories of Iain Seoras Rockcliffe’, a compellingly lovely memoir of a life, ‘at least in part’. ‘Rocky’ hates and avoids school, preferring to find his education all around him on the Isle of Skye.
There’s a particularly charming bit where Rocky and dog Kim observe a fox ridding himself of fleas:
Currents push each hair up from the skin.
And all the time the ball of wool held high within its teeth.
Until the neck goes under.
Until the ears go under.
The closed eyes. The delicate snout.
Till only a black nose. Flared nostrils.
Then the nose goes too.
And the ball is released.
And away it floats.