Walking down the Royal Mile

It’s Saturday night and we take our time.

Closes marked by plaques

And stories that ended

A long time ago.

By Canongate Kirk, we linger

Robert Fergusson, poet

His effigy is cast in motion

Folding a book to his breast

Stepping out along the Royal Mile

His bronzed face is silent and untroubled

By the fact that he is dead.

Our attention is claimed by the living

A gaggle of girls, young.

They are loud

Their voices, their clothes.

Hard, angry faces.

Some altercation occurs

And flailing arms wave and point


As spiky shoes meet cobbles.

A meeting of minds

This is not, but

The trouble recedes.

As they march by

In dagger stiletto drill

We watch as

One girl lifts her mini-dress

And from her underwear



A packet of cigarettes.


Speechless for a moment

Before laughter

I think of the poet.

Auld Reekie is still telling stories

For which plaques will not be required.


By Fiona Lochhead Sept 2010