MARION MCCREADY lives in Argyll. Her poems have been published widely including in Poetry, Edinburgh Review, The Glasgow Herald and Be The First To Like This: New Scottish Poetry (Vagabond Voices, 2014). Her poetry pamphlet collection, Vintage Sea, was published by Calder Wood Press (2011). She won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2013 and won the Melita Hume Poetry Prize (2013). Her first full-length collection, Tree Language, was published by Eyewear Publishing (2014). She has a sequence of poems titled ‘The Birth Garden’ in Our Real Red Selves, a poetry anthology published by Vagabond Voices (2015).



The tree outside my window
is wild with Pica pica –

dozens of them sitting there
like papier-mâché birds –
the set square lines of their backs,
beaks raised to a midday sky.
            A sky which doesn’t know
what to make of the bleached
wing-tips or the blind coal heads.

They say the tongue of a magpie
contains a drop of blood
from the devil.
          If you bit my tongue
what do you think would happen?

I’m watching them
through the window
sitting on the large leafless,
twiggy tree – a maze of dark veins.
        The tree is a kind of Medusa
rooted to the earth, unable to claw
the charm of magpies out of her hair.

       Sometimes you watch me
the way I’m watching these corvids
as one by one they disappear
leaving behind a small body of them;

and I, not knowing, if they number
eight for heaven
       or nine for hell.



Night Poinsettias

The snow has not yet drowned
in thunder, lightning, or in rain.

The snow has not yet drowned
the garden completely.

The house is bat-black, air still,
bedroom doors unopened.

Small breathing rises in each room –
my daughter, my son

asleep among butterfly wings,
blue stars, waning moons.

Ice-animals creep across the window –
see how their footprints leave

thousands of spilt needles
pricking the dark at every turn.

On nights like these only the fresh blood
of my three poinsettias can be heard –

when shall we three meet again
in thunder, lightning, or in rain?



The Owl Girl

My daughter
sleeps every night gripping
the crumpled picture of a barn owl
and every night I tip-toe in
to the pink flush of her room
and release it
           from her fingers.

At the bird zoo
I was caught in the orange irises
of an eagle owl –
it held me in the sunset rings
of its eyes.
           But it was the skulls
in the keeper’s timber hut
that drew me:

the skull of a badger,
two of mountain hare.
Their fused flat bones,
open hole of snout, teeth gaps
in the jaw.
           Eye holes, ear holes,
holes for the soul
to leak through.

They became the skulls
of my children –
their soft fontanels
pulsing under my fingers.

At night,
when I slip into her room,
I place the heart-shaped owl face
under her pillow
to fly.


If you wish to read the poems in page view, the following link will take you to a PDF – Marion McCready Poems

All works published by the Glasgow Review of Books are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and the journal reserves the right to be named as place of first publication in any citation. Copyright remains with the poet.


  1. Your poems are lovely and helped my imagination fly, as I remembered smoothing the hair above my own children’s fontanels. The pulse of life, so trusting, still connected in a primal way. As primal as poetry.

    1. Thanks so much, Brenda, that’s lovely of you to say!

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