Poem introduction

Before my boy was born - I didn't know it was a boy obviously - but before this child was born I was frightened that I might not like this child who was going to come and live with us. I think this is a thing a lot of expectant mothers fear but you're not allowed to say it. And I thought this person's going to come and live with us for, maybe, twenty years and what if we just don't like each other? But I live by the Tay which has huge reed beds so I thought well if the worst comes to the worst I can always make a wee basket which of course I didn't. Instead I wrote this poem called 'The Tay Moses'.

The Tay Moses

The Tay Moses

What can I fashion
for you but a woven
creel of river-
rashes, a golden
oriole's nest, my gift
wrought from the Firth -

and choose my tide: either
the flow, when, watertight
you'll drift to the uplands -
my favourite hills, held safe
in eddies, where salmon, wisdom
and guts withered in spawn,
rest between moves - that
slither of body as you were born -

or the ebb, when the water
will birl you to snag
on reeds, the river-
pilot leaning over the side:
'Name o God!' and you'll change hands:
tractor-man, grieve, farm-wife
who takes you into her
competent arms

even as I drive, slamming
the car's gears,
spitting gravel on tracks
down between berry-fields,
engine still racing, the door wide
as I run toward her, crying
LEAVE HIM! Please,
it's okay, he's mine.


from Jizzen (Picador, 1999), copyright © Kathleen Jamie 2002, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Recordings

Kathleen Jamie

Kathleen Jamie Downloads

1View from the Cliffs

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2The Leaving of an Island

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3Black Spiders

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4Peter the Rock

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5Julian of Norwich

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6The Way We Live

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7From The Autonomous Region

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8The Queen of Sheba

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9Child with Pillar Box and Bin Bags

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10Wee Wifey

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11Perfect Day

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12Mr and Mrs Scotland Are Dead

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13Outreach

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14Arraheids

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15Hand Relief

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16Swallows and Swifts

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17The Sea-house

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18Rooms

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19Skeins o Geese

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20From Ultrasound: Ultrasound, Thaw, Bairnsang, Prayer

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21The Tay Moses

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22Crossing the Loch

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23The Graduates

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24Mrs McKellar, her martyrdom

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25Bonaly

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26Lochan

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27Rhododendrons

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28The Well at the Broch of Gurness

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29St Bride's

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30Bolus

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31Meadowsweet

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32Pipistrelles

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33The hill-track (Frogs)

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34The Wishing Tree

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Books by Kathleen Jamie