He danced with her all that night,
boots flying to fiddle and accordion;
tight in his arms against his worn shirt,
she felt the raw spirit rise off his skin
burning her temple, an island boy
home from his travels, swaggering
his famous Bar-L tattoo:
the bird's eye
stared from his thumb's taut webbing
as his fingers pressed down on the bone
of her throat when he kissed her after
and softly eased her into the water.
Before she washed up, his boat was gone,
carrying him over the sea to Glasgow
a bottle in his coat, on his hand the swallow.
Kathleen Bainbridge grew up in South Shields and taught English in Durham and on Tyneside for many years before retraining as a Gestalt psychotherapist. She has recently had work published by Leaf Books and Biscuit Publishing and her poem Bad Boy was runner-up in the 2011 Theatre Royal Shakespeare competition. She is also a singer and musician who, in her distant youth, opened for Pentangle and Lindisfarne.
She says, "I wrote the sonnet Islander last year but it has its origins in the summer I turned seventeen and was working on the isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides during the school holidays. That August, a murder took place on the island - an exceptionally rare event that shook the tiny community, including me. Some of the details in the poem are based on the facts as I remember them, some are imagined."
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Islander © 2012 Kathleen Bainbridge: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.