Wild Moment: Les McMinn

Published: 9th February 2017

"Stonecrop and wild celery hold hands, gripping tightly..." Three prose poems inspired by Caithness and travels around Wester Ross


Stonecrop and wild celery hold hands, gripping tightly. This sheer cliff edge and sheltered haven, a collage of mustard lichen and green acid moss. Handwritten note on some lined paper in my bag. Whitewash on linen canvas the colour of fresh concrete. This is nature's own brutalist architecture. The shouty, shameless hooded crows fitted out in palettes of grey. Words of the day - amplitude, resonant, daunting, elegy - echo north along the fractured coast to the stacks at Duncansby. Sun glinting on a tapestry of green-blue black, rust spines, purple heather and pine sap. Subversions and fault lines beneath my feet, more than enough to trip a man up. Kittiwakes in attendance, alarmed to the point of panic. High above the azure blue heaven hangs with crystalline stars yet to appear.


Westward scramble from Faraid to Caithness along that topmost ledge of the kingdom. Each turn in the landscape precipitating yet another seizure of joy. Spontaneous detour south to Ben Hope, halting to inhale a purple loch. Perfect mirror image of itself. Holding its own breath. Potholed narrow road that preferred to mind it's own business. Take care it seemed to say. Take care. Sharp turn east to the coast of Neil Gunn, up towards the Orkneys, landing at Freswick, bloody Viking in sentiment on brackish Neolithic peat. Obtusely angled gales whipping in parabolic gusts as the black crows fly from Stavanger. Shouted warnings from the shoreline, a swathe of curlews, disturbed by our presence in this their home, as we pondered where ours might be.

Narcissus at Diabeg

Do you remember that photograph, your hair erupting in a mighty wind like a highland Medusa blacking out Liathach. A daytime lunar eclipse. Then hauled ourselves up to Diabeg standing stock-still on a ledge straining for golden eagles. Down the road a bitumen blue lochan last photographed in 1984. Crystal reflection of a life passing and wondering aloud if my Narcissus was still as dazzling. Yellow rust reeds as architectural backdrop. Eye-catching teal couple, his modish green with chestnut beret, her mottled brown designer coat borne with stylish grace and wholly unencumbered by our presence.

For more information about Les and his work, follow him on Twitter @lesmcminn1 and like him on Facebook /les.mcminn.5

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