by Tori Grant Welhouse



Where do you come from?
He doesn't mean my address.
She's a Yank. She can't help it.

We meet in the Bird in Hand.
The jukebox and its revelations.
I pull pints in a shop window.

He tells me later about my ass
and the deal with a candle.
The dampest cold pervades.

I have no idea what he’s talking about.
Half an ounce of what?
Tobacco loose behind the bar.

Long Life is a popular ale.
He ships out the year I’m born.
Mixing beers a regular custom.

Bang bang, the patrons say.
Chicago is the closest they can imagine,
knowing nothing of the Great Lakes.

When you first meet someone,
that  f r i s s o n, I won't say destiny,
his eyes the color of frozen seas.


He rolls a cigarette with one hand.
We drive to the end of the island.
Peat stacks up outside doors in bricks.

The pulling-over lane swerves.
Seaside villages with far away names,
side-to-side sway of loading ships.

Winds blow across the moors,
essentially open plains with nothing much to see,
wooly sheep huddling on the hills.

Squint in the smoke sings a brae bricht
whisky song, bend in the barrel, burn burnishing,
Highland history in every craig and firth.

Old world, new world, ancient world,
It was always Culloden in his soul,
something misbegotten on the front lines.

Words I like: muckle for big,
quine for young woman, aye for yes.
We are the manifestation of where we come from.


Lacking witnesses we drink a little,
comprising the edges.
I can't stay without being married to somebody.

He thinks he should make a stand.
I never advise eloping,
two kinds of cloud hovering in the sky.

Kilt shops display faded tartan and sporran,
my white blouse with its long ends,
lopsiding smiles,

wail of bagpipes shivering across the heather.
I can't get the ties to look right.
It bothers the picture.

Adroitness of the photographer, having no opinion,
bustle of a cathedral city, ruins left standing,
"I do" stakes out some higher ground.

We are relieved to avoid a blackening,
never mind the treacle, soot and flour,
the joining of two exiled northerners.

We take our chances with tradition, evil spirits,
each day a facing off, marriage finally
an emigration of purpose, chance meeting.





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