Monday, March 21, 2016

His Last Six Gorgeous Weeks of Life

What he loved about the Scots
As a half-bounded cultural gestalt
Was their peculiar bipolarity.

They couldn't seem to drink
Without glorifying the art of binges
Or pause without pious abstention.

They spent like drunken sailors
Saddled with the stereotype
Of their tightfisted stinginess.

They romantically beserked
For Bonny Catholic pretenders
Or pursed their Calvinist lips in the Kirk.

They sketched Faeries and wee folk
As well as their cousins the Irish,
Then hatched Hume and Darwin in Edinburgh.

He thought of them often as he settled
To brood in his sandstone and sage
Nest like an old prairie hen, ready

To cluck over having given birth
To death. How had he come
From wide-eyed boy visiting Skye

To fussy old fluff incubating the end?
He was a wee man of his own,
An imp, a problem, a gem.

You couldn't trust him. You couldn't
Forgive him, but there was no reason
To give up on the small magic he hid.

Maybe he liked the Scots because
Their tendency to extremes
Brought the ends of the human spectrum

Close enough to keep a beady eye on
Constantly, to either side as he hunched
Himself down in between, half

Drunk and half sober, half
Nihilist mystic, half empiricist,
Half calm, half ready to cackle

Insanely for the sake of an egg
Of an unhatched, half-witted idea
Or for fear of the stealth of the fox.

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