Alternative Hats





To see painting which inspired the poem click on link for National Gallery of Scotland:




























Alternative Hats

(On ' Rev. Robert Walker (1775-1808) Skating on Duddingston Loch'  

                             attributed to Sir Henry Raeburn)


Skating on Duddingston Loch

Reverend Walker sports a black beaver

striking the same jaunty angle

as his back leg flung out behind him.


Now he really moves, cutting a dash

in his red skates, spray sheering at his heels.


If you look closely, there's the trace

of an earlier hat, at a straighter, more sober angle,

its potential still ghosting his brow.


On the ice, parallelograms,

scribblings of earlier trajectories,

faded tracks of journeys intercepted


are criss-crossed by swerving double-takes,

changes of direction, or routes where he

turned back.


(Published in 'The Red Wheelbarrow', Summer, 2004.)