Kathleen Jamie

Image by Alan Young

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.


Kathleen Jamie

Kathleen Jamie Reading her own poems

1View from the Cliffs

2The Leaving of an Island

3Black Spiders

4Peter the Rock

5Julian of Norwich

6The Way We Live

7From <i>The Autonomous Region</i>

8The Queen of Sheba

9Child with Pillar Box and Bin Bags

10Wee Wifey

11Perfect Day

12Mr and Mrs Scotland Are Dead



15Hand Relief

16Swallows and Swifts

17The Sea-house


19Skeins o Geese

20From Ultrasound: Ultrasound, Thaw, Bairnsang, Prayer

21The Tay Moses

22Crossing the Loch

23The Graduates

24Mrs McKellar, her martyrdom




28The Well at the Broch of Gurness

29St Bride's




33The hill-track (Frogs)

34The Wishing Tree

Books by Kathleen Jamie