Atween the Wind an the Wa | John Aberdein

Cranreuch cauld wis the tarmac bauld,
The gled i the laverock's sheddie;
Ah masel for the haar-tooteroo
Wis tuckt up in ma beddie.

(The bare road was cold and frosty,
The hawk was in the sky, at other times the domain of the lark;
I myself was listening to the foghorn
In bed.)

The glaikit loon at dayset swithers:
He wammles tae the skirlcrake.
Ilkither clypes o bannock-prattick,
But the lave is emmledeug.

(The silly boy is undecided at sunset:
He sways towards the corncrake.
Every second one tells tales about the plans of the oatcake,
But the rest is offal.)

Chookie, chookie, whaur's yir magirkie?
Ta: mishanter snooves i the cavie;
Yon skeich, spune-gabbit gray deuk
Ah maun demember for a shavie.

(Little hen, little hen, where is your woollen balaclava?
Thanks: disaster lurks in the hen-coop;
That frisky, arrogant mallard with the thick lower lip
I must maim for a prank.)

Ramstoorie rhymes reenge ilka rammie,
Puddock-cruds prig wi the poocher,
Whilan the whistlin deuk wid whittie-whattie:
Een whippers-in dree noo their weird.

(Slapdash doggerel searches for every disturbance,
Frog-spawn bargains contentiously with the thief,
Formerly the wigeon would prevaricate:
Even school attendance officers now endure their fate.)

The feenichin wowf wis no easy pit-by,
Nae ferlie it ne'er droond the miller;
Johnie-aa-thing takin a selkie-wife
Owrelouped hir hironious pirlicues.

(The fantastical wolf was not easily satisfied,
Not much wonder it never put too much water in its whisky:
The general merchant, in marrying a seal-woman,
Trespassed on her unconventional mannerisms.)

Frae the mains tae the machair, midden tae merse,
The mools are aa mogert an mawkit;
Mowdies an muckflees muddle an mooch
Whaur nane bit mim-moud midmen mak mane.

(From the big farm to the low land by the shore 
covered with bent grass, from the refuse dump 
to the flat, rich ground by the river,
The earth is messy and maggot-ridden;
Moles and bluebottles have sexual intercourse and idle around
Where only prim umpires complain.)

The rush wis on the dunter-guse,
The gamies were baith gralloched,
Gotherlisch glim-tholers
Daled oot gospel-kail.

(The eider duck had dysentry,
Both the gamekeepers had been gutted,
Hypocritical sufferers from syphilis
Gave out Calvinistic preaching.)

Dividual speugs were swickin
Jinkin dambrod o the green;
Caurry-fistit wankers
Whanged teuchats frae the lift.

(Each sparrow was cheating
Playing draughts on the lawn;
Left-handed masturbators
Knocked lapwings out of the sky.)

The misslieness wis on him,
Missaucred an mismaucht:
Oot o the mist-fawn murran
Cam thon mither-o-the-mawkins.

(Loneliness for the absent one was upon him,
Ruined and mismatched:
Out of the white patch of mist came purring
A little grebe or a witch, an uncanny person.)

The oobit wis aff ees eggs: atween
The wind an the wa it was ee wis,
Till ee hytered in yon yowdendrift:
Tae ees sloum a smoorich cam.

(The hairy caterpillar was nervous: he
Was in dire poverty,
Till he tripped in that snowdrift:
To his entranced sleep a stealthy kiss came.)

John Aberdein’s novel Amande’s Bed, partly in Scots and partly English, was compared to the work of Joyce, Borges, and Vonnegut, and won the Saltire First Book of the Year Award (2005), while its dystopian sequel Strip the Willow received the Scottish Arts Council Fiction of the Year Award (2010).