Dundee/StAnza renga: February

(This month’s renga was done in collaboration with StAnza Poetry Festival. Many thanks to Annie Rutherford and Eleanor Livingstone for all their help and support.)

All shakes and shivers:
tree, birdfeeder, hand. Snowflakes seek
unchancy twins.

The brae: kids sledging, a Breughel’s living spit
come squalling with delight to life.

Above the vaccine queue
at the Municipal Hall
the sky’s in scrubs

The land wears its muffler,
bringing stillness to a frantic world.

The lunar new year is ox-stubborn,
Lockdown or no, home pulls on a long line,
‘Gōngxǐfācái’s from Dundee to Singapore.

Wade through drifts for bread and eggs.
One slip scrambles the whole meal.

Ice floes on the Tay,
the snow crunches underfoot,
sunset pinks snowy roofs.

Single-figure temperatures feel warm.
A £15 meal for two. On Zoom. Slush.

We’re caught between registers:
Fantasia on a theme by frost, or
Adagio for streams of meltwater.

Blood orange for breakfast
predicts a bright day – sunrise, sunset.

In Botanic Garden
chance chat about tree creepers
and frilly aconites.

The tiger lillies wilt to mourn Tipu
at Lalbagh, where histories pollinate.

Sodden seal sculpture,
protecting young hawthorn buds –
wooden-eyed wonder.

Grey sky: freed from flowering grass,
the sundial throws no shadow.

Hills’ white bunnets shrinkin oan ther heids
but the cauld still strikes. Nae lang
i the gairden till yer nithered.

Pale lantern of a sickle moon,
cut in two, by an arrowhead of geese.

A boisterous Westerly steps in,
wind under one arm, rain the other,
in its pocket a recipe for squall.

Rooks wise to shifts of weather
defer breaking twigs for nests.

Up on Reres Hill
pushing up amongst beech roots
snowdrops, daffodils.

February, seeing its own foreshortening,
trips over itself to cram everything in.


Fran Baillie, Arjun Bali, Helen Boden, Janet Gutteridge, W.N. Herbert, Andy Jackson, Gail Low, Lindsay McGregor, Peter Marshall, Loretta Mulholland, Rhoda Neville, Anne Prescott, Lydia Robb, Nikki Robson, Harry Smart

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