COLIN WILL





Ranomafana


How noisy the rainforest is.

I’d expected silence, creeping things,

but the frogs were at volume eleven

in their own sex adverts.


Birds in the canopy played

One Song To the Tune of Another;

laughter, hoots, shrieks of a buzzard,

a cuckoo with a strange call.


Further in, cicadas chirruped,

a thrash of leaves overhead,

the steady roar of water

over the falls.


The ring-tail lemurs dozed, lying out

along branches. An infant peered

down at us, mildly curious,

then looked away.


In a clearing, butterflies battled

in upward spirals; giraffe-necked

weevils wobbled into the air,

landed on pink flowers.


The clear blue morning gave birth

to clouds, which built

towards the evening downpour,

the cracks and rumbles of thunder.


Fireflies flashed green signals

in the treetops, and, lit by our torches,

a mouse lemur grazed on tree-sap

as we watched, not breathing.





On the Door of the Dacha


You were out when I called, Petya.

It’s good weather for hunting, and I thought

you might want to join us. Yesterday we saw

a young wildcat at the edge of the trail.

That flattened head, long thick barred tail –

unmistakeable – and the way it faced us, hissed,

and slipped into the bracken. 


The birds were busy too – harriers

taking their tithe of the little finches,

a peregrine – pigeon-fancier – patrolling

the flight corridors through the valleys.


I noticed a family of pochard on your pond

when I called. They’re fine game, the best

of wildfowl, and tasty for the pot, with roots

and herbs to sweeten. They’ll fly south soon –

shoot them while you can.


As we rode I saw the yellow eyes

of the wolves of winter, skulking

round the tree trunks, heads down,

averting their gaze, but ready, always ready.


We might swing round your way again

tomorrow, catch up with you, take some tea,

vodka, listen to your grandfather’s endless tales

of the old days, the old ways. 


If we do visit, you’ll hear us coming.

Honestly, it’s a wonder we bag anything,

the noise we make. Bozhe moi! But glorious.


Sergei Sergeyevich





One Way Ticket


It’s complicated.

Getting there will be fine, just fine,

I’m certain.


How will it work out?

It’s been so long.

I’ve changed – moved on

is the phrase – and I guess

you have too.


So much water has flowed

under so many bridges,

and you can’t step in the same river

twice, as the old philosopher said.


How was it when I was last here?

Nervous, me; angry, defensive, worried, you.

How long does it take

to be forgiven? to be forgotten?

to become irrelevant?


Or has the past warmed

in the pot on the stove,

boiled dry, burned, turned

incandescent?


So it makes sense

only to plan for a journey

of one half, leaving

the question of returning

open.





Colin Will is an Edinburgh-born poet with a background in botany and geology. Six collections published, the latest being The Propriety of Weeding from Red Squirrel Press (2012). He was Makar to the Federation of Writers (Scotland) in 2011. He currently teaches creative writing and conducts workshops and readings.

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