Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart of taxidermy example in Kelvingrove Museum
(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)