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A Snowball in Summer
Poetry by Lorn Macintyre


A snowball in summerThe poems in A Snowball in Summer evoke Lorn Macintyre’s childhood at Dunstaffnage House, Connel, and Taynuilt, Argyll, when fields were still ploughed by horses, where his grandfather, a champion fly fisherman, cast over pools plentiful with salmon, and where the computer had not yet enticed the young indoors from traditional outdoor pastimes. The poet celebrates the Macintyre presence in Glen Noe, the title A Snowball in Summer referring to part of the rent the clan had to pay for their tenancy of the cherished glen beneath Ben Cruachan.  In the poet’s adolescence the family moved to Tobermory on the island of Mull where his father Angus, legendary bank manager, poet and raconteur,  was obsessed with a Gaelic culture that was failing. The third phase of Lorn Macintyre’s life covered by this collection is his time spent in Glasgow, where he had the harrowing task of looking after his mother and watching her decline into dementia, a tragedy he documents with painful honesty and insight in the long poem in A Snowball in Summer. Poems on global warming show his concern for the drastic changes to our environment, the respect for which was instilled in him as a child.

To order A Snowball in Summer (73 pages, paperback) www.argyllpublishing.com

Lorn Macintyre’s own website is at www.lornmacintyre.co.uk

A Snowball in Summer

He bounds down Meall Riaghain,
outdistancing the stag
in the summer dawn,
no time to admire the prospect
across Loch Etive, to Trilleachan
where glacial stones ring
with the oystercatcher’s tune,
and at Ard Uisneachan
Naoise and Deirdre are home
in the ‘cattlefold of the sun.’

Less than an hour to pay his due,
the snowball from the corrie
wrapped in his plaid,
next to his racing heart,
down past the glade
hazed by the charcoal mounds,
gasping as he rolls
the melting sphere
on the table of the factor,
in Glen Noe to collect the rent

from the Macintyres,
a snowball in summer from Cruachan
ticked off on the ledger,
before he rides to Taymouth
to tell Breadalbane,
laughing over a glass of wine
at the charming custom
of the sons of the carpenter,
his trusted swordsmen,
settling their dues in snow.


A rent we could no longer pay,
even if we still tenanted Glen Noe,
because the summer snow
is disappearing from Coire Chat
and soon in winter also
the whiteness will be gone
from Drochaid Glas.
A key turned in Porto Rico
is melting the glacier
and ruining our clan history.


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