The Flesh Tree

Most Scottish of beliefs: a brown-green bark

shielding a bole made of pure flesh;

the circlets of its bone rings rippling

through length and ledger of the trunk.


Even describing it sets the mind’s fire

and brings the griddle to the heat;

shame me all you want, levering it down,

I’d scatter the snow’s salt and cook.


The tongue gives back twofold for what it tastes.

Kissed by the hot, forbidden branch,

can you imagine how the mouth might work?

You might say you wouldn’t, but you would.

Niall Campbell is a poet from the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. His first poetry collection, Moontide, was published by Bloodaxe Books and won the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and the Saltire Society First Book of the Year Award. Noctuary, his second collection, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Poetry for best collection. He lives in Fife.