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Tribe ©

James Graham
Ayrshire, Scotland
2004

You arrive at the city over soaring moors.
The landmarks are white steadings, lighthouse-stark.
You seem at the edge of a different sky, and then
there is a land beyond the sky: the broad

electric meadow of the city, under the early stars,
its amber blossoms everywhere, sparse only far away
by the western ocean or the hills. I have no name
for the colours of the hills: not green,
not blue; they are the colour, I suppose,
of hillsides grassed and gorsed and marvelled at
in failing light, on this one night, a cool
rose-grey, a darkening rose. Apartment blocks
surround the college towers, like giants
that have wandered down from the romantic glens
and stand amazed. And I have seen

the water-meadows of this city too, sham tarns
that never heal, beaches for half-wild children
toying with paid-out audiotape and wrecks
and trademarked jetsam; and the apartment blocks,
cracked-windowed crates through which they squeal
with the scrawny timelessness of gulls. In the city's

scrambled heart, an old man crowned with a trampled hat
is fiercely pedalling. Beard like a mouse's nest,
he rides four lanes of motors. Presently his soft bag
quickens, and a black cat scales his dangerous shoulder,
rocking, goat-sure, tail like a pennon. I am native here

among the monuments to famous men
whose labour forces built the money-towers,
whose fighting forces have made desolation
out of cities such as this. I am aboriginal.



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