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Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum 1.jpg

(Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

25/8/06  Photo: Zhi Yong Lee   Flickr)



My chin was resting on the narrow ledge

and my hand sensed where to find the button.

I pressed: the drama slowly evolved.

Small-headed ptarmigan; weasel, or stoat;

a Mountain Hare…  Was there an Arctic Fox?

My memory is blurred, just as the light

gradually dimmed and a square of blackness

disconcertingly ensued.  By magic,

or perhaps a further impatient press,

a non-existent stage curtain lifted

on the mise-en-scene and, where there had been

autumnal, russet fur and feathers; leaves

of crinkled beech, now there was dazzling white

and a sparkling winter wonderland, with

the taxidermied tableau now pristine,

like the snow in our back garden, before

I rushed to stamp my welly-prints in it.


There were only two seasons, I recall:

autumn and winter.  There was no vernal;

no fresh, green meadows with two hares boxing.

There was no aestival, with growing young.

There only seemed to be approaching Death

and a brief, glittering transformation

before darkness set in.


It was not there.

I sought in vain for the diorama

when I made my last Glasgow pilgrimage;

no grandfather to hoist me up the steps.

The ’64’ Auchenshuggle bus- gone-

at least from its old Clydebank/ Partick route,

where it stopped at the grandiose facade

of a Santiago in red sandstone.


Like a ViewMaster, the shutter came down

on four years of study under the spire

of grimy, but Romantic Gilmorehill.


I ask where my springs and summers have gone.

I no longer need a hand to ascend;

can see in the mirror my auburn fade

and pure white winter begin to appear,

with growing sense of metamorphosis.


Camouflage did not help them to survive-

except in the memory of a child.


(Rock Ptarmigan (Norway) 28/5/10

Photo: Jan Frode Haugseth)