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Setting The Time Aside “The sea is not salt enough” – Scottish Review of Books
by Alexander Hutchinson

Setting The Time Aside “The sea is not salt enough”

September 4, 2009 | by Alexander Hutchinson

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Setting The Time Aside “the sea is not salt enough” – Alexander Hutchison


Gently, gently gets
things going, as you
well know, and here’s
the nub: the dust is up
afresh, and won’t come
down till this is done.

Sydney, it’s midnight
or shortly after, and I’m
trying to get you framed
in the shot: fixed plumb
in the cross-hair snap.

You’re sat in a chair
before a desk, leaning
slightly towards me.
Window edge in;
brick wall behind.

You’re puzzled or costive
ticked or cheesed off –
it’s a bit hard to judge.

I’ll have to take care
to get this straight:
not strain too long
nor squeeze a little tight.

Unlock the gate and let
us in. Unslip the leash
and let the beastie go.
Whatever you’ve got
to say to me, you’d
better say it now.
I’m all ears.

Would an upright man
betray his father?

Who broke the jade?

Who let the wild
buffalo down?

Surely to death we can offer
up some kind of an answer.

What are we meant
to be? What are we
meant to do? I’m
serious, now, Sydney,
we’re starting to get through.



Five to the hour as
the long hand sweeps
round. What a puzzler
you’ve set out for
everybody. We’ve all
been tongue-tied
waiting for it too.

So where’s the gap
or slap, or intersection,
which thresh-hold have
we set our toes to
transgress tonight?

(Hold on a bit, is
that the children starting
up? I think I hear
them through the wall.)

Sydney, Sydney, what
happened in the Pass of Glencoe?
Aye, to you I mean.

All that “wiry, white-fiery
and whirlwind-swivelled snow”.

What did you mean
and what did it mean
tell me to come back?



Kenspeck, kenspeckle:
by means or dint
of this you may detect
just what a rascal
I actually am.

We ought to be able
to take enough out
now to bank the fire,
get paraffin and candles
in for winter.

Never mind the fact
this looks like an office
in a business block
or some old language
cell waiting to be
demolished. Unclench.
Sing out. “The tatties
are ower the side”.

What a laugh we used to have.

I’ll give you a hand
if that’s what you require.

You were never
one for writing “too
much out of vanity” or
suppressing information
from neglect or disdain.

You always wanted
someone else to hear
it and tell it to.

Willie (chord change) I’m
singing as hard as I can.

I never heard the herrings
come home. I never sought
the sea in that way, no –
though I sought it right enough.



That’s gone one:
it must be – and we’ve
still not come (though
it’s moving on now) to
a song that wrecks the heart

I am a man upon
the land; I am a silkie
in the sea. Nobody’s
actually headed
that I can tell, without
any door provided.
Just you and that expression
of bricked-in pugnacity.

What leads to turbulence?

Who would you tap
to see if they’re sound?

I envy you that
glacier calving: “its
sudden momentary thunder”.
I saw one once
in Disko Bay
beneath a DC 7
stretch, mid-flight.

Full lunar eclipse
the self-same night.



Stirring, unstirring
the heavens complete
their happy slow rotation.

Ling and harebell: pinkest
pink and lightest fairest
blue on summer braes
shall still surround us.



Listen, that story about
the heilan shepherd just
does not ring right to me.

And it’s not that your words
are not yet come in to
their own true selves.
They have – or will do.

I can sing, by the way, I
said before – though
maybe not now.

I can dance.
(I swear to God).

Whatever you decide
to settle for, whatever
you take our mettle for,
whatever you use
that kettle for, we
like you nonetheless.

And there’s bound to be
a way round somewhere.

Say the word “dark”
often enough with clear
intensity. Ears and items
rapidly adjust. Cones
and eye-rods sharp adapt:
light quick quiver.

Fire and reset;
reset to fire again.

Who would you tap?

And who would you shield from harm?



You can just see the chop
on the water. Look over
the side and down.

Let’s be nice to the pilot
though he seems to know fuck all.
Be nice. We’re yawing
just a little bit.

At least no hydrocarbons
dumped on the tundra.

No frozen shit, nor
chicken dinners neither.

Elsewhere, things align.
Here’s mebbe something to chew.

Shoo the crumbs off the table.
‘The way is always there,’
says Kung Fu Tsu –
‘it’s the will that’s wanting’.

Who gives a flying
fart (forgive me),
generous master? And, no
I don’t think I can lend
you a couple of quid –
if that’s what you are
leaning over to ask.



Bong – a-long, the clock
once more. Where were we?

The calving. Two
million tons of ice,
gravel, pockets of bacterial
decay: dropping like a
bomb in choppy water
deep down dark
in Disko Bay.

Always you knew
how to lower the tone
to a carrying whisper.

Saying, unsaying
the silence, the gentle
moon comes through
a break of cloud over
Clyde mouth and the Kyles
of Bute, stretching away to
Zennor and Gurnard Head.



Is that you there
yourself, caught on the hop
at the top of the Hope Street
stair? I see your face just
past the gas mantle,
taken up in some
grumpy divination.

Mantle glow or not
I’d recognize you.

That quiff, the growl
the gravel and shine once more.

I’ve got you now.
I might have known.

And look: the night’s a pup.
The day will find us sound.

No flash (no need), no
word, no exit wound.

Having waited, having
wanted, here I am for
you now as sure as fate
as death as taxes all up
front and hot to trot.



Firing and unfiring
the shallows, a low sough
of wind from offshore
raises dust on the steps
as we go down: wading
in again to meet the salt
dark lance of the sea.

From this Issue

A President and a Pope

by Owen Dudley Edwards

Generation Kill

by Roger Hutchinson

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