Susan Butler: a poem

Travelling by night

When the numbers

rattle through my dreams,

back and forth like abacus beads,

I take a trip to that place

where I glimpse

the beginning of things,

my years a puff

of cotton grass pollen

blown over the lochans and knockans

of your forty million,

your granite capped peaks

pale as spun sugar

in the slant evening sun.

I don't leave after tea, as we do,

or break the journey in a value

for money hotel. I go in another time

travelling north with the sun

always bright enough to light

a companion moon,

just high enough to pick out

the landscape's folds, so clear

they come close, embrace

the long lakeland curve of the M6

as a young mother might

in plump, capable arms,

then, before Glasgow,

the windmills settle into neat rows,

limbs outspread to keep their distance.

Sue Butler grew up a convent-educated Catholic and studied medicine in the time of Women's Liberation and of having it all: a career in General Practice, husband and sons. In retirement she took up walking and Creative Writing, considering both to be unpredictable forms of meditation on life in all its grace, pain and peculiarity.