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Though originally inspired by MacDiarmid, Duncan Glen is not like MacDiarmid. His strength is not in fiery conviction—it is in tireless and painstaking pursuit of something he is not quite sure about, a conclusion which never quite arrives, a mystery at the heart of things which no checklist can capture. But it is powerfully present in some of his poems. What better place for an end and a beginning?

THE ROOM

There’s the mirk room I ken
Whaur she bides faceless, unkent;
A quate box-bed white wi her

I never kent but see again.
A shawl’d whiteness seen blin
Wi gruntin, soughin sounds
That turn me quick to that winnock

Daurk wi its hauf-drawn blin.
And on the waa the bress airm
O the licht is swung out
And mantles murmellin and lowin

Ahint globes I mind o as a bairn.
White waas that turn and rise to gie
A glisk o her I kent
Wha’s face I canna see, and ne’er will
Though she bides for aye in me.