You introduced me slowly, tenderly;
Landscapes, alien at first, distilled.
I learnt to recognise saltwater sea,
As heather honey and peatsmoke rose up,
Like selkies from the glass to welcome me.
My understanding grew and, before long,
The foreign flavours became comforting.
Your hills, your lochs, your arms became my home,
You opened doors that I had thought were locked,
You taught me love could be my native tongue.
The Water of Life or An Acquired Taste is the full title of this poem, because I couldn’t decide between the two. I wrote it for my wedding, when I got frustrated that none of the readings I could find seemed really ‘me’. There’s some lovely stuff out there, but, having been to a lot of weddings, I felt as though I’d heard most of them before. Or they were too much of the ‘two people becoming one’ ilk, when I prefer to think of my husband and myself as a team rather than a single entity. Ultimately, they just weren’t personal enough.
So I wrote my own, and if you would like me to write one for you too then head on over to my commissions page 🙂
‘The water of life’ is the direct translation from the Gaelic for whisky, which is of course the metaphor in the poem, which celebrates my love of Scotland as well as my lovely husband. But I kind of like the idea of ‘an acquired taste’ as well, because I feel there should be more poems about the gentle sort of love that grows over time, through many small acts of thoughtfulness and generosity. The sort of love that makes an effort on an ongoing basis, because it knows that this is worth making an effort for.
This poem was shortlisted for the editor’s prize in the 2012 Magma poetry competition.