This City

Here’s a spoken word poem I began while I was at home in Edinburgh over Christmas.

My eyes water on hill tops.

At the peak of Arthur’s Seat, as an icy breeze whispers up from the North Sea,

they stream faster than a burn after snowmelt.

Up here, Edinburgh unfolds beneath me like a child rolling over in a dream-filled sleep

I can hear her, breathing.

In is an aeroplane lifting off to some place warmer, its three hundred and six tonnes of aluminium smaller than my little finger.

Out is the sound of five thousand tires fleeing winter over pot-holed streets;

they look like creases in a blanket from up here

and it’s perfect.

My heart beats a lullaby:

this city, this city, this city.

but it’s not enough to keep her sleeping.

The first light of dawn is reaching through the cracks in the curtain of clouds

bathing her body in yellow as bus horns begin to yawn.

The Royal Mile is stretching out its arms from the palace to the castle

and freckles of tourists and tired commuters emerge from the sheets  of shadow.

To the east, the meadows kick out their feet, the grass shimmering with morning dew

Scotland’s disgrace rises from its bed on Calton hill, a magnificent monument unfinished like a dream cut off too soon

and it’s perfect.

My heart beats a tattoo:

this city, this city, this city.

I can see it all from here,

all trace of sunrise peace has disappeared

and I’ll be in another country before sunset.

I gaze into the wind and my eyes glisten with sea salt tears,

but I’ll keep this place with me.

this city,

this city,

this city.