September 17th, 2017 Posted In: Writing Tags: 2017, Language, Poetry, Scotland, Swedish


Learning Swedish,
I had a head start
In this language studded
With words I already know.
A Christmas cake plump with raisins.

The German words lost their Z and SCH
Smoothed and polished away like stones on a beach.
Thanks to Konung Jean Bernadotte,
An elev goes to school
And you buy a biljet for the bus.
English threads through everything,
A stratum that twists and turns

And Scots, east coast Scots

Barn, hus, hem, sten, gråta, kvinna, bra –
As in Scotland, you do not pet a dog,
You say – klappa
A lanky Swede who likes football
pronounces Stenhousemuir just like I do.
Was it all taken from Scotland to Sweden?
Or left here as the Vikings raped and pillaged?

A family visit, my brother and his child.
At the marine centre we borrowed a viewer,
Like a traffic cone with the top chipped off
And a glass plate to look into the depths.

The lassie (kvinna, quine, queen)
Who lent it to us
Spoke American-flavour English.
When Siobhan – aged six – learnt how
To look down and see the jellies floating
The Swedish lassie smiled and said braw!