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.