She was from Saltcoats and when she came south to kiss me, she brought the northern sea on her lips.
was once, I told myself; a mishap. A random chance on a stranded train,
the last to run, the first to break down, as a dark and wet night
peppered the carriage.
was a tangle of patched jeans and knitwear but sharp; reading Barthes
opposite me when she could have chosen any other seat because they were
D’y have a spare quid? I fancy a buck o’tar. This gent is a boggle t’sketch.
paid for black coffees and a pack of miniature cookies, and watched her
discard the lid to take a mouthful from the cardboard cup.
Tha’s bettah. Tah f’ye kindness.
It was half an
hour before she asked me whether love should be spelt with a capital or
not. From there she hooked me into an empty place where lovers and love
look at one another from islands, being driven apart by the tectonics
of absence and meaning.
I asked her if she was heading home, where she was studying.
Study? Naw, just gettin’ oot an’ away from things. Havin’ a divvy 'round the tracks is good fuh readin’. And yoo?
I was returning to London from Coventry after watching my sister get married for the third time.
So is it wi’ a capital or nae?
It depends, I said. Though on what I didn’t know.
I tell yeh wha’ - she tore a blank scrap from the back of her book and
scribbled on it with a pen she snatched from the pocket of my shirt -
when ye puzzled it enou’, meet me on th’dunes. I’m there in th’morn,
with rain an’ snow an’ sun, an’ th’ bonny breeze, eh?
tucked the paper in my pocket and knelt on our table, drawing my face
up in her rough, cool hands and kissing me with all the salt in the sea.
I opened my eyes and saw her, a wild crag breaking off for another
A week later, I take the paper from my pocket as I step out of Ardrossan Station and into the coastal wind. Follow Montgomerie t’ North Crescent an’ wait me there.