‘I Thoucht the Warld Wid Fa’ & ‘Larch wood in early winter’

Photograph of orange, autumnal larch tree branches in foreground, with larch trees beyond.

I Thoucht the Warld Wid Fa
                  after Nan Shepherd¹

Fa will ging wi me ti Loch A’an?
Fa will tak me til ye Loch A’an?
Fa ken’s hoo
an his the gumption ti dig deep
an tak me til ye?
Sae this auld puckle o banes can lie
in ‘dreaming quietude’² an tell
ma sair hairt’s sorrows ti nane
but the burnie steens an yer
aine fathomless depth.

Fit wye can I no ging lief alane and
fit wye can I no ging wi nane
but ma aine sell? Hoo shall
I explain til ye Loch A’an hoo I
canna ging nae mair intil the bricht
swells oh licht atwain ben an ben? Though

I canna ging, an I canna stand in yer
caul caul blue, nor swim in yer deepmaist
waaters, I’ll no soon forget the pit
o ma aine despair, nor thon May
day, fan jist the thoucht o ye let me be
lifted, lifted up. Ye’ll

no stairt fae a doverin dream oh hills that haunt
yer wakin oors an keep ye fae yer rest like me.
Ye’ll no greet till
ye hivna ony mair tears the
wye I did thon awfie day
fan I was telt I
couldna walk. I thoucht I’d sooner dee.

I thoucht the warld wid fa. I couldna see ony bricht
spark oh hope in ma wee bit room an’
then I thoucht on ye Loch A’an. Yer bricht
waaters sae calm, sae caul, sae blue an’
stopit ma greetin, an kent yer bricht
face wid aye be there fir me as
lang as I hid air,

an strength ti draw it. Fan ithers walk aside yer waaters ye’ll
no catch a glimpse o me, but there I’ll be, as I haunt
the hills, corries, glens shut aff ti me
in aa but ma aine funcy noo.
Cry me fey if ye maun I dinna care for
I hiv fun a wye ti ging til ye Loch A’an noo an fir evermair.

¹ Written in the form of a Golden Shovel, this poem is a response to Nan Shepherd’s ‘Loch Avon’ (In the Cairngorms 1934). This poetic form is created by writing down the last words from each line of a poem, in order, on the right-hand side of the page. The new lines should each end in a word from the original poem.

² From Nan Shepherd’s poem, ‘Fawn’ (In the Cairngorms 1934).

Larch wood in early winter

Walk, at the turn of the year
through a larch wood
past lichen-clad sentinels
in a ragged unruly row

each tree its own bright flame
bare save for stubborn cones
fingers pointing upward
to a sky laden with snow 

needles too soft to earn the name
quiet your booted footfalls
and scent the air sweet and clear
as they carpet the ground below

you’ll envy the goshawk and deer
the larch wood is to blame

Photograph: Hans Isaacson

Creator’s biography

Lindsay Oliver fell in love with creative writing in 2012 when she took a creative writing course at her local community centre. She has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair full-time. She hasn’t been physically able to leave her home since early 2019 and she misses the Scottish hills. Her poetry has been published in English and Doric. Most recently, three of her poems were published in the chapbook Family Too by Hybrid Press. She also draws. After losing much of the use of her left (preferred) hand, she learned to draw with her right. An exhibition of her illustrated poetry appears online.

Website: lindsayoliver.scot
Instagram: @oliverlindsayoliver
Facebook Art Page: https://www.facebook.com/OliverLindsayOliver