Scotland

For Absent Friends

Wring the Scottish rain clouds dry;
Take sleet, the driving snow, the hail;
Winter twilight; the summer’s sun slowed down
to pearl-sheen dusk on hillsides, city-roofs,
on lochs at midnight.
And, most of all, take the years that have already run
to dust, the dust we spill behind us…
All this, distill. And cask. And wait.
The senselessness of human things resolves
to who we are —our present fate.
Let’s taste, let’s savour and enjoy.
Let’s share once more.
Another glass for absent friends. Pour
until the bottle’s done.
Here’s life! Here’s courage to go on!

— Ron Butlin, A Recipe for Whiskey, from Without a Backward Glance: New and Selected Poems, 2005

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