Gerry Stewart is a poet, creative writing tutor and editor based in Finland. Her collection Totems is to be published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press.
My backpack saws against my jacket
highlighting each stride,
1984 miles signposted to Orwell’s haunt,
the distance doubled to my sore knees.
My friend offers scout-leader patience
at my toddler concerns
of ‘Are we even halfway there yet?’
For her, this is a mere warm-up
for tomorrow’s trek of all three Paps.
I’m not here just for the mountains,
the smack of island blue or long-lost friends,
but to reconnect with my first self
who stepped blindly on her own path
and discovered those things had meaning.
Lunch among the thistles,
ferns and cow pies below the house,
blue seas and sailboats,
I relish each aching moment.
Back down The Long Road,
words on snapped tiles, embedded in mud,
read like the poetry of sore feet
and bumbling boots.
if I start with soil
and the random pull of the sun
the hours lost
would have a root
the glisten of rain
in my weight
behind the spade’s edge
in the lilt of a cabbage white
from the dark corners
of the compost heap
if I could start with soil
till the hours
there would be poetry
The Kick Sledge
I want to take the potkukelkka
across a frozen lake
on a sinivalkoinen* day.
With its mitten-worn grips,
wooden seat smoothed by generations,
it voices a squeaking,
I can lean into.
Trees bow to me
under the weight of a fine dry snow.
My boots pound, setting up
that perfect glide
over the singing dark ice.
Wind-bitten cheeks, lungs burning,
I kick a last fleeting contact with the earth
and then fly
When I tire, a fire pit waits
with a hand-carved kuksa of tea
and a fresh korvapuusti.
I pretend to be Finnish.
Then I remember: I hate winter,
its piercing, truthful glare.
Finland and I
are barely on speaking terms.
I crawl under my duvet until spring.
*Blue and white: another name for the flag
inspired by Finnish lakes, sky and snow.
Barnhill, Jura: StAnza's Poetry Map of Scotland (Poem No. 351)
Turned Page: Ten Writers Writing (Lochwinnoch Writers)
The Kick Sledge: Spelt Magazine (Issue 1)