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Verge 2017 – Chimera


William Drummond’s Resting Place

Jena Woodhouse

Drummond’s tomb was empty as the woods in winter, all forlorn.

Drifts of dead leaves lay knee-deep in gloom beneath the lichened roof,

Along with juice cartons and cans, offerings of graveyard trash.

Freshets from a spring still rise from somewhere in that cemetery

And flow beneath the turf and tree roots to a well, the Eldin spout,

Whose waters, once revered as the elixir of longevity,

Stagnate inside The Laird and Dog, undrinkable and sad.

If Drummond leads a spectral life, look elsewhere for his legacy.

Seeking comfort, seeking light, he hastens back to Hawthornden,

In whose warm rooms late at night guest writers dream or lie awake,

Listening to owls and the incessant purling of the Esk, which hasn’t

Altered course since Drummond walked beside it, solitary—

In mourning for Miss Cunninghame—or in the company of friends.

Ethereal, he lingers at closed portals, envious of sleep,

Listening for sounds of pages turning, signs of wakefulness.

Once, the presence at my door was so intense, I turned the key,

As if a lock were likely to deter a homing revenant.

Morning shepherded me back to oatmeal porridge, urgent drafts—

Volatile ideas that vied for egress, jockeying for space

As horses champ and chafe against the chute, impatient for the start.

Yet as guests pace the narrow path beneath the crags of roseate stone,

Turning images this way and that in the alembic light,

Who can be sure he isn’t there, watching from his mossy throne,

Hewn from a rock that marks his place and mocks the vacant tomb.

William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585–1649)Scottish poet and man of letters, friend of Ben Jonson (1572–1637), second laird of Hawthornden, now Hawthornden Castle International Writers’ Retreat.

Verge 2017 – Chimera

   by Bonnie Reid, Aisling Smith and Gavin Yates