Poem introduction

One day walking in Argyll with my husband we encountered a wishing tree which surprised us a great deal because I didn't know there were any in Scotland. I mean a tree people have bashed coins into for a wish or a desire - I knew they existed in Ireland but had never seen one in Scotland.

The Wishing Tree

The Wishing Tree

I stand neither in the wilderness
nor fairyland,

but in the fold
of a green hill,

the tilt from one parish
into another.

To look at me
through a smirr of rain

is to taste the iron
in your own blood;

because I bear
the common currency

of longing: each wish
each secret visitation.

My limbs lift, scabbed
with greenish coins; I draw

into my slow wood, fleur
-de-lys, the enthroned Brittania.

Beyond, the land reaches
toward the Atlantic.

And though I'm poisoned,
choking on the small change

of human hope, gently
beaten into me, look:

I am still alive;
in fact, in bud.


from The Tree House (Picador, 2004), copyright © Kathleen Jamie 2002, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Recordings

Kathleen Jamie

Kathleen Jamie Reading her own poems

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