Deeside / by Alex Williamson


Fourteen years flash by in an eye-flicker.

Sweet little Ballater, this regal town

With its quaint, Beeching-ed former station,

Corner confectioner, the Balmoral Tavern,

Lochnagar Indian, two Co-ops, one Queen.

Still the same. Still different. Still home.

No flag atop the Balmoral pole this week,

Just a smattering of snow to help to keep

The skiers and lifties up at Glenshee.

Fourteen years ago you scrambled up

A hillside, young poet with an old soul,

Average mind, lungs full of hash smoke,

Trying to write, trying to know something

Of life: “the river shivers like a silver shoal,

A strip of foil unravelled.” The little distance

You’ve travelled. Returning with two sons,

A wife, your parents: older, slower, more

Mortal. Their bequest, this regal town,

These sterile fields, ancient woods,

Mountains and valleys echoing with

The sound of their unspoken thoughts.