The Eildon Tree
Library, Library, Quite Contrary by Tony Beekman
There once was a collection of books who travelled together in a mobile library van. Lachlan the librarian looked after the books well. He placed them neatly but not too tightly on the shelves so that no volume would be crushed. Lachlan never let any book leave his collection, save for temporary periods of borrowing by readers. Lachlan knew all the borrowers. He had been driving the van up and down the braes of Steenshire for decades and the county’s little towns of Grumpton, Shoogley and Onyerwick Green were home territory. Lachlan remembered where everyone lived; if someone forgot to return a book, Lachlan helpfully drove to their house and asked for it back. Lachlan would set off from Grumpton Central Library, picking up any new titles he had ordered first. While driving, Lachlan would hear shuffling sounds as his charges slid ever so slightly backwards and forwards on their shelves. The books were edging forward to the fronts of their shelves one day, waiting on Lachlan coming back out of the Central Library. There were no new titles on order today but the books knew that Lachlan would pick up a copy of the latest edition of the Steenshire Gazette and they always wanted to know the latest gossip. William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth protruded a bit from its neighbours and cried, “Fair is foul and foul is fair, sad news today will cloud the air.” “Well, whadda ya know?” bellowed Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. “We have ourselves a regular soothsayer. Oldest trick in the book. As if a newspaper wasn’t going to bring bad news!” Macbeth jumped up and down and thudded back into position. Lachlan returned and dropped the Gazette so that it slapped onto the desk. He walked slowly back to the cab. The Gazette usually flaunted its wares, parading its front page news before all the books but, this time, it stayed lying face down, displaying a football match report. “Come on, pal,” the Cuckoo cajoled. “We can take whatever the news is. Spill the beans!” The Gazette turned over and screamed from the front page, “Mobile Library Faces Axe in Council Budget Cuts.” Macbeth jumped up and down again. “Okay, Macbeth, I’ll give you that one,” conceded the Cuckoo. The hefty tome of G.W.F. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit jumped once and landed heavily, sending vibrations all along its shelf.
Wanton by Sonya Macdonald
For the love and the distance travelled, scoop me up at the station hold me tight in your big hands eating chocolate at the wheel, all the windows fully open kiss me slowly let your hands slide round my shoulders narrow roads, twisting higher through these forests to the mountains, we are gliding on a knife edge wet with waiting, free to go.
Before I Learned to Swim by Timothy Kearns I almost cut it as a young man stealing sticklebacks from Five Rise Locks in jars attached to string. I ladled frogspawn out of Chellow Dene and saw it spawn the tadpoles we tipped into the spring.
I coaxed the crabs from rockpools by the sand sunk breakers on Rossall Beach until the sun went in. I was Poseidon then, and elbow-deep in certain dominion, before I learned to swim.
#issue 33 | Winter 2020