Scottish poetry # 1
Poems from Scotland
When we went to the grammar school the teacher said,
‘You A-stream girls will go out in the world and be doctors and lawyers.
You C-stream girls will go out in the worldand be typists and mothers.
’But when we left(tossing our hats in the air), beyond the school borders,the streams overflowed and the dams broke with the water hoarded in our hearts and all the girls flowed out in the world in alphabetical disorder.
The blue ribbon of a river,
too deep to ford,
a great chattering of water a hundred feet across,
and on the far bank a cottage fluttering smoke.
No-one crosses here without the ferryman’s consent:
king or commoner,
all are in the same boat -
thirty years he’s criss-crossed the river for the one coin
a coin for a crossing but for silence also:
the man who travels under cover of owls always to meet the girl who is not his;
the boy who’s running away,
whose eyes are full of ships and storms;
the priest who carries more than he came for.
That coin is worth its weight in gold,
to seal the slip of a tongue,the spread scent of a secret.
So he has learned to say nothing,
the man with the bracken hair and the big hands -
to let out no more than where the best trout lie.
THE SONG OF THE MIGRANT WORKER
We’re building the ring road round Beijing,
helping to support Olympic dreams.
Green beans and noodles twice a day.
Yes, we’re building the ring road round Beijing.
Twenty of us in the dormitory.
Family back in Hunan Province wait.
Three hundred yuan a month we send them back.
We see beggars shoed off the avenue.
We see new tramps every week.
We watch the giant billboards change.
We see the new underground open.
We’ll return to our fields when roads are done,back to our peasant farming lives.
But we know now how city people live.
Clean fingernails, leather shoes,washed clothes every day.
Girls go by in high, high heels,speak into mobile phones.
China has so many new roads now.
We wait to see where they will take uswhen we’ve built this ring road round Beijing.