in Poetry

Small, querulous voices

among waves’ quiver and heave

where they hide themselves


in shadow and light of their feathers.

As though only visiting this world

for insects and crustaceans,


they live on hinges of moments,

riding currents and tides.

Whirling on the surface of a lochan


like a tottim they create a vortex

to draw up creatures which they snap-peck

one by one, quick as chopsticks.


Males incubate eggs whose shells are dense

with legend as if each chick grew to fill its own map

inscribed by its mother. Females can’t do


with running a nesthold, preferring to make

a head-start on the 16 thousand mile vaege

from Shetland to Galapagos.


The Shetland dialect word for the Red-necked Phalarope is peerie-deuk, a little clockwork duck. A tottim is a spinning top. A vaege is a journey by sea.


Rebecca Gethin had two pamphlets published in 2017 and new work appears in various magazines and anthologies. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow and undertook a residency at Brisons Veor. Messages was a winner in the Coast to Coast to Coast pamphlet competition and is available as a hand- made stitched limited edition.  Vanishings is forthcoming from Palewell Press.  

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