A WATERY cameo from Norman MacCaig, dripping with his customary charm and close observation.

It can be found in the splendid posthumous volume, The Poems of Norman MacCaig, edited by his son Ewen, with introduction by Alan Taylor (Polygon, £25 hardback).


In a salt ring of moonlight

The dinghy nods at nothing.

It paws the bright water

And scatters its own shadow

In a false net of light.

A ruined chain lies reptile,

Tied to the ground by grasses.

Two oars, wet with sweet water

Filched from the air, are slanted

From a wrecked lobster creel.

The cork that can't be travels -

Nose of a dog otter.

It's piped at, screamed at, sworn at

By an elegant oystercatcher

On furious orange legs.

With a sort of idle swaying

the tide breathes in. Harsh seaweed

Uncrackles to its kissing;

The skin of the water glistens;

Rich fat swims on the brine.

And all night in his stable

The dinghy paws bright water,

Restless steeplechaser

Longing to clear the hurdles

That ring the Point of Stoer.