Tag Archives: Marion McCready The Cockle Picker’s Wife

Marion McCready’s Vintage Sea

Marion McCready was born on the Isle of Lewis and brought up in Dunoon, Argyll, where she currently lives with her husband and two young children. She studied at Glasgow University and her poetry has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Vintage Sea (Calder Wood Press, 2011) is her first collection.

“It is rare these days to read a first pamphlet in a voice so sure and well formed and rooted in local knowledge as Marion McCready’s, whose poems come to us drenched in the waves and mists of the Firth of Clyde and the islands off the west coast of Scotland, and yet never fail to remain responsive to the tidal surges of the universal. Whether writing of the natural world of her beloved seashore and rivers, or of the equal mysteries and deeps of love and motherhood, McCready’s poems are always both aware of the spirit and grounded in the here-and-now of a pleasurably physical sense of language as music and of the poem as a shaped and shapely object. Setting out for the islands, McCready advises that we will be able to find her “in another life/ among the kittiwakes, the sea pinks,/ cormorants feeding their young in my ribcage”, and we, already persuaded, are eager to follow.”

– James Owens
“to read marion mccready’s poetry is to enter a transformational landscape where the act of seeing is ecstatic and filled with meaning. it is not magical realism but a realism that becomes magical. i highly recommend it.”

– morgan downie
“Marion McCready lives on an island which seems to be one giant metaphor. From seascapes and landscapes she creates dreamy, often startling, images, sometimes making a pithy point, sometimes nudging the reader beyond the here and now to a place more mythological and elemental. This is the first collection from a very individual voice.” 
– Hugh McMillan
The river-sun whitens the birch wood trunks.
I lie as foreign as coloured glass amidst the mossy greens,
shadows of birds flying across my skin.
Shushing leaves fill the sky with the rush of the sea,
and above my closed eyes
the clouds become boats filled with Nessmen
as they sail to the gannet skerry
where they’ll find me, in another life,
among the kittiwakes, the sea pinks,
cormorants feeding their young in my ribcage.
The Herring Girl
Under a cloud of shoals she lies.
The peaty moon
rising from her knees,
sailing the length of her curves.
Her herring bone hands
hang by her side.
The cry of her oilskin tongue,
lost to the wind.
Across the loch
the false men shimmer
their glitter of quartz,
feldspar, hornblende.
They talk amongst themselves.
Cailleach of the moors,
she slits throats in her sleep.
Though she lies inland,
her body is a work of the sea.
She follows the seasons
in the ports of her mind.
The Cockle Picker’s Wife
She hangs her blacks
on a washing line at the back
of a washed up beach.
The tide has left its mark
on the promenade:
offerings of seaweed,
cracked mussels, softened glass.
Gulls feed from her hands,
oystercatchers land on her head.
She keeps cockles
in her bed,
picks them by night under moonlight.
At her call the heart-shape shells
rise from sands.
Their rib mouths yawn,
part under her touch.
Her home is a haven for molluscs.
Daily she fills, from the Firth,
a bath and lies with them, skin
smooth as pebbles.
A black rock under green waves;
the waters flow over her head.
She gathers
the unruly spheres,
plants them in her pocket,
her bag, seeds them
between her toes.
She knows one day she too
will lose her fruits
to the wind.
We Met by a Charm of Crossbills
The blood-birds kiss the air
as they fall from cone to cone,
their warp of mandibles
freeing the fruits, shucking the shells.
Below them, the sky is flecked
with drifting scales.
You whisper ‘crossbills’
and a bird rises in my throat.
You taste of rust and nails.
The Douglas-firs hold up the fiery bells,
their thick bull-necks, their forked-tails.
My skin is a spectrogram of your breath.
You spell words with symbols on my neck.
The blood-bird song is a warning in our heads.
We met by a charm of crossbills.
from Vintage Sea (Calder Wood Press, 2011).
Order Vintage Sea.
Visit Marion’s blog, Poetry in Progress.