Only an ocean divides

Shetland 1900

I wear a strippit skirt
a hap fur when he's caald
I plait mi hair, wip hit
roond me head whin A'm wirkin
I mak ganseys an openwark
ta sell at da shop for errands
On mi back a day's kendlin o paets
kishie baand owre mi shooders
We gadder da hairst o laand an sea
Hit's a hard life but a göd een
I kerry daily daffiks o watter
twa fae da wall, twa fae da burn
A'm packit mony a barrel foo
o fat herrin ta cure fur winter
an hung oot a line o piltocks
ta dry, ta store in a tinny
A'm waited lang fur sicht o a sixern
ta come back fae da Far Haaf
Wir peerie hoose hadds
a hale family, prammed in
Da cradle is seldom empty
A'm made a boannie baand fur hit
Whin wir day's wark is dön
I lift a fiddle fae da waa
Hit pits a spring i wir step
a lichtsome lift i wir haerts

Squamish Nation, BC, 1900

I wear a striped skirt
and a warm patterned shawl
I plait my long hair. Even though
I am old, it hangs on my shoulder
I weave hats, tunics and baskets
to trade for metal tools
On my back, a basket of driftwood
The woven band rests across my brow
We gather the bounty of land and sea
It's a hard life but a good one
Daily I carry wooden pails with water
two from the well, two from the river
I have traded barrels filled with salmon
with cranberries. They warm winter
And hung fish out to dry
on wooden racks along the river
I have watched a canoe grow small
have waited for its safe return
Our family extends across generations
That is our meaning of 'house'
I like a cradleboard upon my back
I have strung new beads for it
At special times we dance
in harmony with nature's rhythms.
The flute lifts our spirits; the drum
reminds us of our beginnings

Christine De Luca, Luath Press, 2005


  • "The poet shows great skill in rendering meaningful Shetland poems from a variety of original sources."The New Shetlander, No. 234 - Yule Issue 2005
  • "She has again proved herself to be both a fine poet and a worthy ambassador for Shetland literature."The Shetland Times, September 2005
  • "This is poetry to be spoken aloud, allowing the sound of the words to form in the mind."The Herald, October 2005
Read More Reviews


Listen to more Recordings