Cáit O'Neill McCullagh

Cáit O'Neill McCullagh

Field Notes

We began wanting their names; the weeds, small accidents of anemochory (sounding so like the name of a loch, but meaning only windblow). Insouciant blow-ins before us on our neighbour-close stravaigs; those permitted pilgrimages, when we opened ourselves, new ground for the abundance of colour & story around the home patch. 

I’ve no idea which week or month or day it was. Time has been slippery; great globs of it whirling out of grasp & then all our river grief  becoming spate, making us mewl for the bright-fingered sun on our lips; seeding her familiar flowery motes into us, wanting to swift tongue her colours in local leids. 
We’d read about ‘Comfort Town’ in Kyiv. Each dear dote of a house painted a cheery hue - palettes of buoyancy - an architecture of prismatic possibility, refusing all this sickness & war & we had watched a film about Margrethe Odgaard; how she had made her book of Danish colours. 

It helped us, to dream through the shades of light, to know North is a colour, as we washed the pink softening of our hands to raw; feeling the crepe of our weary skin quickening only when we saw two head-torched runners - firefly dancers - in the near-dawn-blue around Swordale Woods; floating eerie through the darkling at the window, when we woke & I blurted my dreams (your sleep not quite lifted from you). 
After this, we walked. I told you that Shetland Jenny swims in the midst of mareel; seafire. We were quiet then, only the wet-grassed whaup on our ears. Later, you said the sparrows (once incidental to our dailyness) had begun to accompany us - winged cherts, flint-flits - teaching us to divine glisk from shade. 
                                                             We made our pact then, with all those peedie things; strewn blethers chattering belonging into us, assembling the world to our eyes, giving up their names ̶to light’s silence listening

rosebay willowherb 
caod aslachan ̶
Colum Chille 
St John’s wort
[luck of birds]
sweet cicely
[brew with hart’s
indigo | biolar
cuckoo’s shoe
& duiliasg
bearnan Brìde
[Findon daisies]
Cáit O'Neill McCullagh
Cáit O'Neill McCullagh

Cáit has been writing poems at home in Easter Ross since December 2020. Her Saboteur Award winning debut pamphlet The songs I sing are sisters’- a collaboration with Sinéad McClure - was published by Driech in 2022. Her first full-length collection will be published by Drunk Muse Press in June 2024.