Climbing Criffel

Gillian Mellor

29 September 2020

Eleven Poets for Eleven Days

Wigtown Book Festival has asked Hugh McMillan, one of the Scottish Poetry Library’s Champions and a nationally respected poet from Dumfries & Galloway, to curate ‘Eleven Poets for Eleven Days’ for our 2020 festival. 

A poet from the region will be introduced daily, here on our website, along with a video reading of their specially commissioned poem.

Gill Mellor is the sixth poet in the series.

Climbing Criffel

Yesterday I swallowed a mountain.
It unfolded from paper maps
showed a new path up an old hill
fresh gravel over mud tracks.

I attempted it in small chunks
while my muscles screamed
for oxygen faster than my heart
and lungs could deliver.

The geese grew larger
the oak and ash disappeared
the stream said drink me
spilled silver down my neck

the rocks said eat me
and lodged between my teeth
which stayed gritted
until everything was below me

and I held the Nith between two fingers
watched its guts bleed into Solway,
chanted human names
for nature's places

saw land chained to trigonometry,
listened to owners trade
our homes from under us
in whispers

like we could shapeshift into geese,
migrate with ease
needing no passage
or passports for borders.

Gillian Mellor

Gillian Mellor lives near Moffat and co-owns The Moffat Bookshop. She has been published in In The Emma Press Anthology of Illness, The Dangerous Women Project and has won The Biggar Science Festival Writing Competition in 2019. She has published in ‘Southlight’ and extensively online including in Bill Herbert’s excellent ‘New Boots and Pantisocracies.’

Here in ‘Climbing Criffel’ geography is transcended into a world of pure sensation and startling imagery.

Read more of Gillian’s Poetry: