Dreaming, I saw a thistle field, in half light;
It teemed with folk.

Some, their loyalties
elsewhere, took shelter from a threatened gale.
They planned new batteries of defensive acts,
to keep their rule.

At their flank, a cringe
of crawling servants let the surplus value
of our better lands get stripped.

There were some, counting their blessings
and their savings, safely banked,
who loudly chorused, All is well.

They turned their backs
on those, their neighbours, a greater number,
who were beggared, beaten, ill.

Of these,
the most despairing, their shivering souls and bodies
wrecked, looked for exile through the portal
of a needle’s point or a bottle’s neck.

In among this dream’s parade,
from every quarter of the field,
a quiet movement gathered pace.
Looking for a wider view, a growing disparate band –
I joined them soon – made progress
uphill to an open gate.

“History is the only real teacher …

David Betteridge is one of forty poets contributing to Scotia Nova. Poems for the early days of a better nation edited by Alistair Findlay & Tessa Ransford, Luath Press, Ltd, Edinburgh, 2014. He has written a number of books of poetry and edited A Rose Loupt Oot: Poetry and Song Celebrating the UCS Work-in (Smokestack Books,2011)