Catrioana, who is 76, says about herself:
I live in Scotland, on the west coast by the Clyde. As a child I was interested in reading and began writing - in primary four I was sent round the classes to read a poem had written. During my teens I wrote some angst-ridden poetry. This stopped when I was busy training to be a primary teacher, marrying, producing a son and going through a divorce. However, I began writing again, both prose and poetry, and have done so ever since. I have been lucky enough to have been published in magazines and won competitions in both genres.
Gigha in July, the first of the three poems Catriona selected for this blog, won the 2018 James Muir Prize for Poetry, an annual competition run by the Scottish Association of Writers.
Gigha in July
It isn't just how, unhurried, Cathan's chapel changed to roofless walls of sleeping stones, nor the long, long creeping of the moss that hides the faded tales of its hidden bones, It's the now, slow green sea-swing of weed, the gently-feeling fingers of a rising tide and the way this wind is just a passing breath that lifts the reaching gulls to wheel and glide out where, above Kintyre's hazy hills, clouds pile and billow, soft and leisurely, or the way the white-lace path of the ferry's wake melts away to the dark jade of the sea and the lazy heaves and sighs of seals that drowse on that far point's mat of stranded dulse - all these set the pace of this island's heart; the singing summer-rhythm of its pulse.
It was a ritual of love: his wooden pipe held tenderly in one pale hand, he scoured with a bristled tool, screwing with gentleness into the bowl - five turns. As he tapped the rim into the hollow of his palm, his fingers were smutted with fine ash; the ghost of times before. He would happily have sucked on its emptiness, savouring the taste of singed briar, but the filling of it was part of the love affair - sensual, unhurried: pinches of brown shreds tamped in, the scratch and flare of a match, the agile flame sucked down, released, sucked down by the pop-pop of his wet lips on the stem, till the bowl glowed then - the small ecstasy of breathed smoked that melted in the bar of sunlight above his chair. After he was gone, his jackets scented the dark air of the wardrobe with the memory of smoke; to smell it was to resurrect my grandfather.
Pearls lie like drops of milk caught in satin, their coffin-box a softness and a swagged prison far from the beat of the ocean and its green depths; far from the gape-mouthed oysters that itched them into being. Her red nails blaze vulgar against their subtlety, as she lifts them, sets them against a neck as pale as they. Perhaps the thrum of veins in her throat will echo, for them, that far, long-ago green pulse of the sea.