Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no. 261: the Forth Rail Bridge

Fife Fugue
on fallow ground at the edge of the barley
four horses lie down (one foal, one tossing)
blue willows retouch a blue-grey sky
as if Matisse had set them free
from their Pompeii fresco in a calque
of sorts, olive trees transmuted
in this Northern reach to willows rising
from basalt limbs, the same dense-crystalled
rock it seems
that shaped the Bay
of Naples’ basal rings
ripening fields sparkle past
lit by rapid streaks of goldenrod
flimsy stands of willow herb
swirl on by like candy floss
lining Burntisland’s serried tenements
a dozen neat lanrigs lap at the track
now the slate waters of the Forth
open up, whip up low-flying swallows
to skim the skerries off Kinghorn
now a clunky meander
round squat green volcanoes
and the bridge’s triple iron husks
put me in mind of a gladiator ad ludum
the caged lion’s roar, the tiger’s
swift swipe through hexagonal bars
at the nose of this carriage
headed for Edinburgh
Madeleine Campbell

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