Sunday 27 February 2011

liminal collies

Deborah Harvey told me that Ronnie Goodyer, over at Indigo Dreams, is putting together a book about Border Collies in aid of Border Collie Rescue. She thought I might have some collie pictures lying around, and she was quite right. And while I was thinking about it, I wrote this poem, about the now long-dead Bessie, who features (reluctantly) in this picture.

So much life behind those loopy eyes,
I thought, and bodged the hole you'd dug right through the door,
The night they let the fireworks off and I was out.

Always the mad, bad friend, the one that dragged me cringing
Through adventures that I'd never have had if it hadn't been for you.
There's me, mopping up the mess and picking up the pieces,
Accepting your so-rueful and bewildered "Had to do..."

And weren't you in a frenzy in the van, though?
I put a porthole in the side of it,
To stop you dribbling on my shoulder leaning out.
Nose in the wind through the whole damned celtic twilight zone,
From Mallaig down to Bantry, never missed a smell.

How the hell did we get mixed up in those armoured cars?
Driving into Derry, the soldiers hanging out of hatches,
Swinging their guns aside, going "Wuff. Wuff."


  1. That picture could so easily be of Ted, were Bessie's blaze narrower. The situation is a very familiar one, though.

    I have just confiscated a 6" ruler from Ted, who was preparing to chew it. It has Mickey (Mouse) on the Move on it. God knows where he unearthed that from, it must have been lying about for the last decade!

    Still loving the poem also!

  2. Oh yes! That collie named Bess (ie)
    She were a one.

  3. Thanks, Deb; I've tweaked the poem as suggested. Thanks for that; feedback is valuable, as you must know.
    She were, Etherow. And so were Mary, as I suspect you know. She still around?

  4. Great pic, great poem, obviously great dog, too!

  5. Thank you, Susan. Bessie was a Presence, that's for sure!

  6. Happy Spring Dru.
    I remember the porthole. Mary departed many moons ago. Besides Scamper we have a bearded-collie cross deer-hound lercher type called Jessye, soft as a brush!

  7. Reminds me of my Elkie. After she died my parents always had dogs from the Border Collie Rescue. The last one is Gyp, I don't think my mum will have another one afterwards.

    My dad rescued a collie when we were children. He visited a nearby farm as they were getting ready to shoot the dog who had been frightened by a gun (!) and was no use as a working dog. Dad was a shepherd at the time and retrained him to work with sheep again. We had him for a couple of years and then dad gave him to another farmer so that he could work as the sheep were gone by then. I remember as a teenager dad coming home and telling us that the farmer had just phoned to let him know that Glen had died and to thank him again. Glen was a wonderful dog

    Dad used to train the collies with ducklings – just as daft as sheep.

    Dom’s intended J-M spent the summer on the mountains as a shepherd with a Pyrenean mountain dog a couple of years ago; they think that they are sheep.

  8. Didn't know I was so far behind until I clicked on your "poetry" label and got back to here with poems I'd not read yet. They are great, every one. This one you posted just a month after I put my last ailing dog to rest. Cats fill the vacuum, almost, and they are easier on me in my condition.