‘Eilean’, ‘Nothing to Hear’ & ‘Sunday, Baile Mòr’


At home she wears the sea. Sometimes
she slips it off and folds it on a chair
and then she is the hardier, warmer
colours of the earth. But mostly she’s
the sheen of tides and currents,
of salt and shells and tumbled glass.
She leads me to the gravel path
and over the hill where a sandy trail
cushions my feet across the machair
with its single croft and seven cows,
past the lochan and down to the pebbled bay.
Silence pours out of her. Much of it
I can’t catch, sand slipping through
my fingers. The rest I recognise as places
I belong. I swim out to them, haul my body up
and stretch myself on every surface I can find.


Nothing to Hear
       Torran Woods, Argyll

but your steps conveying your weight
across deep pile, nothing –
when you stop –
but a snapping underfoot

among the mossy pillars
rising high into the rafters, nothing
beyond the damp black seam,
once a stream, beyond 

the bright brown cones
like tightly closed pangolins,
the air so still
you would swear the forest was 

holding its breath as you sink
to inspect that deep red mushroom,
a flamboyant beret cast across
the backrest of a velvet chair, and finally 

your own breath’s rise and fall,
your own perpetual breeze
feigning stillness,
keeping your small house upright.


Sunday, Baile Mòr

Mist rolls down in gusts
       from the rocky knoll
behind the whitewashed cottage

across the phone masts
       with their crisscross cables
over the lane where a cyclist – 

green bike, matching raincoat –
       dismounts to open up
a farm gate in her way; it pours 

over the hamlet
       cooried down for warmth,
across the knobbled field, 

iris blades, black-faced sheep,
       to the edge of the island,
slow, barely visible

the ghost
       of some powerful engine
exhaling deeply as 

along the coastal path
       a small red tractor lugs
its pile of gleaming kelp.

Lead image by Shane Stagner via Unsplash

Creator’s biography

Sharon Black is from Glasgow and lives in a remote valley of the Cévennes mountains in France. Her poetry is published widely and she has won many prizes for her work, including the Guernsey International Poetry Competition 2019 and The London Magazine Poetry Prizes 2018 and 2019. She has published four full collections of poetry and a pamphlet, Rib (Wayleave, 2021). Her latest collections are The Last Woman Born on the Island (Vagabond Voices, 2022), set in Scotland and exploring the landscapes and heritage of her home country, and The Red House (Drunk Muse, 2022), set in her adopted homeland of the Cévennes. Since 2016 she has been editor of Pindrop Press