This beautiful poem by John McIntosh was sent to me after John met the dug, and me too, at James Dornan’s fundraising event in Cathcart Bowling Club earlier this month. As today is the anniversary of the first independence referendum, and as we anticipate another, I thought it was the perfect occasion to share it with you.
Airson Pòl agus an cù
by John McIntosh
‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’
Even while I waited by
the side of that canal in Elx,
the night heat a weight,
me turning circles in the grass,
I knew he would come.
I just had that feeling, y’know?
Like I was destined to be someone.
Imagine. A chucked-oot mutt like me,
Daring a dream like that.
Kidding yersel’ on, they say here.
Mind you, what’s fur ye ‘ll no go by you.
That’s another thing they say.
Alone there in those nights I saw it all:
the silver star-bridge arching overhead;
the moon’s lamp swung between horizons;
sparks glowing in the eyes of swimming rats.
Autopista headlight flashes, growling cars.
I waited there for weeks.
People threw me scraps.
Someone took a picture.
I was patience, and waited.
Till suddenly at last it changed, when Andy
saw me in a dream, told Paul about me.
My picture flashed up on his screen –
he knew me right away. How could he not?
And for the first time I was taken home.
And then I went home for a second time,
To this grey north, where gingers just like me
parade around as if they own the place.
And here I am, two thousand miles later,
lying at his feet in Cathcart Bowling Club,
while he describes that other dream he has:
starts in the mind;
how what we see
in Shettleston is not normal;
how a new Scotland is waiting.
Aye well, I wouldn’t know anything about that.
I’m just a ginger dug who likes being taken in the car
And being fed sandwiches by smiling strangers.
I’m not that into politics you see.
And English is my third language after all.
(Well actually my fourth, if you count Dug,
which I’m sure you do).
But three things I do know:
where and what I was; where and what I am;
and the fact you never know.
If Andy could dream me alive,
if I can be dreamed alive, wake up one day
wide–eyed in some new world, then maybe
you can too.
Stranger things have happened.
Another thing they say.
It’s getting late. He’s signing things.
My eyelids droop. Been a long night.
If I start to twitch and whimper,
know that in my dreams I’m back there
lying next to that canal, swivelling
ears towards the distant growling cars.
And me (and you, and all of us) still waiting.