ÉTUDE ÉCOSSE



In Linwood I hear far off bagpipes
softened to sweet melancholy by distance and traffic.
Here in faded, working-class Linwood, Christchurch,
New Zealand, 18,269 kilometres from Scotland.
The Scots had an invisible empire.
My Muir great-grand-parents arrived
from Scotland on the Cornwall in 1849.
They farmed Green Island clay, Dunedin,
under a Saltire sky of white-crossed blue.
There they are, photographs enshrined
ex voto at the Settlers’ Museum.
My great (four times) grandsire on the other side
was John “Corriechoille” Cameron,
the drover of Lochaber famous in fable
who camped many nights on the Highland hillsides
with only a ram’s horn of whiskey
and a bannock to sustain him.
When night fell, he simply
wrapped his plaid around him

and slept by his woolly charges.

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