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January 2017, vol 12 no 4

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Maggie Mackay

Owning the Past


On a spring afternoon close to Easter I’m following a dry mud trail towards a cluster of derelict cottages. They huddle below a lead mine’s chimney stack rising into Ayrshire sky. Boards secure the empty door spaces. Between the gaps I spy Victorian tiled fireplaces, their colours dimmed by time, the half ruins of lost seasons. Traces of potato lazy beds are pencilled in the overgrowth by the Garryhorn Burn. Rolling green stretches to the horizon, a tranquil ghost witness of the Killing Times, the hounding which outran the people and their freedoms.

Claverhouse swords
harvesting flesh –
a stone cross in Kells dusk


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