The second day of my holiday here, I borrowed the anthology Scottish Poems (ed. John Rice) from the Shetland Library in Lerwick.

A Cormorant in Oils by Gordon Meade

Imagine a month
Without washing. Lank hair
Matted on your brow. Skin, grey
And pocked, an ox’s jowl.

Imagine eating
When every mouthful tastes
Of gall, and swallowing clogs up
Your throat with oil.

Imagine a bird,
Once a pirate in blacks,
Now, a beggar in a clotted sack.
And don’t imagine, see it,

Approach it,
Get within six feet of it.
Then, see it try to open plastered
Wings and fly. See it fail,

Hobble into
The sea and dive. Watch it
Surface over twenty feet away, and
Know, its only future is to die.

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