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My right hand is Nessie's head,

her neck my dripping arm. How old

is the dinosaur? Forty

    or fifty million years.

Can the dinosaur sing? No,

too old; but likes to be soothed

    by others singing.

I open her thumb-

    and-finger beak

at least to let her speak

in her quavery Triassic,

'Take me to your leader!'

—to which you instantly,

    I haven't got any leader.


What, meanwhile, are my own terms?

Darling—'little'—Mädchen—the same

Suspicious argot I used to spy on.


Strange, that we dwell so much

sometimes, on self and such,

that we can spend an age without

    a clear view out:

when, if I asked the mirror once

in the way of an old queen,

to frame how things might look

twenty or thirty visits thence,

all it reflected back was white

and unrefracted light, the mean

prophetics of a closed book.


from Iona

Mick Imlah

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translated from the Ukrainian written by
Halyna Kruk