Peerie-deuk

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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