Maggie Mackay, a jazz and whisky-loving Scot, is a recent MMU MA graduate with work in Algebra of Owls, The Everyday Poet, Southlight and Three Drops Press, and forthcoming in the #MeToo anthology, March 2018. Her poems were nominated for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem and the Pushcart Prize in 2017.
How to Distil a Guid Scotch Malt
Separate the Gross from the Subtle Hieronymus Brunschwig Wrap yourself in Mum’s dressing gown, its envelope-hug, pour a dram of uisge beatha, sip peppery Talisker peat. Hear the barley grain grind in the mill, conjure a mash in the steel tun, a flow into the wash, stroked by hushes and baloo baleerie. Gloamings on salty coastlines, sweet kiln smoke, skin oil grams, cloud the floor of the tumbler, climb the sides, pull you into the cask. Acids blend with ethanol, transform into esters, fruity and aromatic. A Hebridean sunset copper-pots your tongue, biscuit-beaches rise in your throat. There’s a nip in the air, a lifetime of goodnights fermenting in a kipper fire. Her arm entwines in yours. She comes home, full flavoured. Task begun, the heart of the run is now, my middle years of fear and longing.
First published on the Amaryllis Poetry website (October 2016)