Every Time You Cough

By John Quinn


Just off a road Romans watched from a hill

where Blind Harry’s Wallace sought weavers’ help,

outside the gate Claverhouse tried unlatch,

the hand of History’s Golden Fibre’s poised.


North of the West Port verdant in Blackness,

a Victorian A lister now minds

once green fields and textile lore spun here,

and story and struggle abuin the Tay.


Whence Fuadach nan Gael, An Gorta Mor

and Angus chiels and Perthshire queans came –

women and lassies who knew the weaving

and halflin men who’d fight more voteless Wars.


The High Mill stands Cathedral like in light

the people never knew last works standing.

Satan’s gone from a UNESCO City

but his horseman poverty stalks it still.


It’s treated not cured with culture today.

Enter the cobbled courtyard through the gate,

step back in time, stand by the well and breathe

but every time you cough know jute was here.