Mhairi Owens





At Corryvreckan, there’s an arm
that reaches from a dark sea pit
towards the strait’s surface.
There it catches tides and throws them back,
forcing surf that swallows itself
in perpetual circles,
spewing waves that break
where they swell, like forebodings.
Maybe they are, I don’t know.

Perhaps it’s the Cailleach
washing her giant plaid in public.
There’s a case to be made
for getting mythological about these things,
for supposing this is the kind of place
that might have spawned the nuckelavee.
Maybe it is, I don’t know.

But that’s something that lives where light doesn’t.
It appears in the deceptive netting
of its own flesh, its skin
being entirely flayed, a dark kelp-fankle
of sinews and black blood in warted veins.
Its lower body’s a warped horse
with razor-finned legs
and hooves that could crush counties. It’s said

it feeds on dreadful rationalities.
Maybe it does. I don’t know.



Mhairi Owens is a community worker, poetry tutor and online Scots Editor of The Scores. Her poems have appeared or are pending in various anthologies and journals, including the Glasgow Review of Books and The Rialto.


Note: Cailleach | giant creator hag; nuckelavee | Orcadian sea-horse monster.

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