The Boatbuilders

The Boatbuilders
Published: Feb 22, 2013

Hands have tilted the forests, cut hulls from oaks
Worked to sheers and garboards made tensed
And curved to open like expectant palms.
Resilience is caulked in the ribbed bellies
Of the boats. The builders knew the tide’s pitch
And the sea roads, the fishingways and the whaleways,
And the charted eye of the tree’s core 

Casts ferned hoops from the islands, rings blooming
Like a net’s throw over depth and dark water.
There is a chronology of men in the wood,
Normans and John Normans, their voices
Seamed in the broads and the quiet keels.
The voices of the women waiting on the piers
Fleck the bows like spray. Their legacy cuts the waves,
Transient histories rising in a foamy wake.

Kirsty MacLeod is a poet whose work draws heavily on the Hebridean landscapes that she grew up in and on the strong connection between island culture and nature.

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