Alternative Hats
 

 

 

 

 

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

http://www.nationalgalleries.org/collections/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternative Hats

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

                             attributed to Sir Henry Raeburn)

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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.)