Scour-faced, jet-lagged, fresh from the airport,
they plod up the tower’s steps
and stare across to the Old Man of Storr’s sky-pointing finger.
And here are the bobbing boats in the rippling water
and here are the children far across the kelp
yellow boots, hair stiff in the wind, going for a plodge
and here is the post office where the postmistress heaves her arse
out of the round-cushioned chair for no one
and here is the fish and chip shop serving the same cod, the same plaice.
The harbor always changes
Here is the harepin bend where Skinner Bean drove his motorbike off the edge
taking with him just-pregnant Mandy Hurlock
and here is the black bench where Maureen and Tony gave up on their marriage
and here is the deadwater where Rosie Gurley threw her engagement ring
after cutting a new row of hashmarks on her right thigh.
At night they come, the dead and the broken, lined up at the tower
staring across to the Old Man of Storr
cursing the long spiny arms of the bay that hold them and hold them
“The harbor never changes” from the poem “IV Borders” by John Burnside