Andrew McCallum: Maggie Mucklebackit

Maggie Mucklebackit



The clock repeats its parable as Maggie talks.

The seconds tick and fall, tick and fall,

like waves lapping without a sound.


She is caught up in a memory of

the place from which she speaks: a house, a stair,

a whale brae leading to a harbour

where silver-spilling boats land their catch.

The quayside skirls as women toil all night

to clean and fillet.  She talks about the sea,

the clear deep saltires of the firth,

the blether of the women while they work.


She talks through what remains of the afternoon,

until the clock’s dry ratchet-work resumes

and evening comes and I must leave,

and all these quaint particulars are gathered up

like silver darlings in her hand, whose work

has sailed her across a wheen of unfathomable seas.




the muin ast the craw



I spy ayont the windae

a kirkyaird fou o wídae-wifes

a sea o liltin wiltin sauchs

a saicret beuk o foryattent wísses

drount in stanks wi brukken hechts

I couther a bottle o waarm swats

I see a puil o muin-lichtit tears

blinterin swate an maumie


the muin ast the craw

for a wee sangschaw

that nane wad ken i the

roukie milk o the gloamin


aungel brither I miss yer hair

yer tentless naitur’s cannie leuk

ye fell lik rain i the daurk cleuchs

kisst the lips o bluidie daith

sung ti you a slew o sirens

sleekit selkies an wild sea-rovers


ye gairdit the luft wi kaleidoscope een

yowlin oot richt ti the blasphemous nicht

lik a wulf i the gairden

whit for dae ye daidle lik a snail’s silkie saul


the muin ast the craw

for a wee sangschaw

that nane wad ken i the

roukie milk o the gloamin









Andrew McCallum bides in Biggar.  He spends a lot of his time turning poetry, from which flinders occasionally fly off and embed themselves in other people’s magazines and anthologies.  He has recently taken to wearing safety glasses.


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