1. Tuim-heidit Tam

E wisnae lang it skuil whan Tam wis ca’ed tuim-heided.

Bit tuim-heided e wis nae

tho buik-lair wis ayont im.

E’en wi the maister’s wastle an aw Tam’s ettlins

it widnae gae in.

Bi the hinnermaist lousin Tam hud nae mair buik-lair

thin whin e stertit.

Bit e hud eneuch tae bi gaun oan wi:

strang airms

a hamelie hert

an a dumfooderin wey o mindin things.

Whan Tam’s freens mairchit aff tae waur

e wis left ahin wi weemin an weans

‘Luk efter thaim fir is, Tam,’ they skrauchit,

shouderin thar knapsacks. ‘We’ll bi hame gin Yule.’

Weemin an wee yins war sauf in Tam’s hauns

an e gied a lift tae thaim aweys:

fuishin watter, uphaudin dykes, thinnin neeps,

cairryin wechts an weans an warries.

Whan the warst speirins cam Tam wis thaur

tae mou tae weemin whit e mindit:

whit trees the wid hud cam frae fur thair spurkles,

whaur they’d bin wheetled,

whit hud bin wheepilt,

an tae shew thaim the hidlin brainches

whar cerved herts twined nems thegither.

Weemin tak tent an grat

fur Ypres, Verdun, the Somme,

fur fu kists an tuim airms.

An Tam wis thaur fur weans as weel.

E telt aw the richt wey o’t:

o faithers guddlin fur trooties,

o pauchled epples that mad thaim seeck,

o cushie doos shuit doon bi catties -

a deedly airt -

an harned ower a bleeze in the wids.

The herts tae.

E shewd thaim the herts.

Irene Howat (Copyright)



2. Sneckit

Whan Wullie cam hame fae the war

e cam on is lane

fur Wattie, is brither, wis deid.

No yince, no een yince,

did e quo Wattie’s name.

E haurdly sayed ocht at a

bit sweer at is weans

fur thair yaummers.

Jenny ettled tae mak im talk

bit e widnae.

E couldnae.

Is hert an is tang wur sneckit.

Yin poorin wat day

Tam went tae the linn.

Wullie, hunkerit oan a bowder,

didnae see im

till Tam cruiket is hochs aside im.

Een fixed oan a stane oan the faur side,

Wullie stertit tae spek quately.

‘Wi want ower the tap thegither

intae hell,’ e sayed.

‘Whan it deid doon A spied Wattie

lyin thaur,

starin at me glaikit-lyk.’

‘Squeermen ower,

A raxed oot ma haun fur is.

Thir wis nae haun.

Nae airm.

Jist is heid

lyin lyk thon stane in the glaur.’

A guid while gaed by

wi Wullie sneckit in is waur

an is faimily sneckit in thairs.

Then yin day

Tam went tae the linn

an fun Wullie thaur afore im

lyin sprachled in the waater


wi is airm roon the stane

on the ither side.

Irene Howat (Copyright)



3. Tam’s waur

Efter the waur wis focht and wan

the young laird cam hame.

Fowk wur prood o thair Major

an e’en prooder

whan e mindit wha they wur

an gied thaim the time o day.

Yin efternin e met Tam in the wids.

‘Did you have a good war, Tam?’ speired the Major.

Tam leuked im in the ee.

‘The King had naethin A cud dae for im,’

quo he quately.

Rid-faced at is dowfness the Major

chynged tae ither on-goins.

Whan e met the meenister

the Major telt whit Tam hud sayed,

an hoo seeck sorry e wis tae hae speired.

It teuk the meenister mair nor an oor

tae tell aboot Tam’s waur

an the young laird wis the better o’it.

A wheen o years on Tam gaed hame,

slippin awa quately in is bed.

Awbody wis et the kirkyaird,

frae auld fowk tae hauflins.

Afore the meenister spak

the Major telt hoo Tam hud seen is waur.

Thair wis hardly a yin

whase een wurnae watshod.

When a wis din

the meenister raxed up is airms

ower the yin whase king

hud nocht fur im tae dae

an lippened Tam fur aye

tae is Maister.

Irene Howat (Copyright)

4. Hauflins

Maist efternins Tam raiked the wids

gaitherin kennlin

an dirkins tae gie a bleeze.

Whiles yin o the hauflins wid cum up anent im

an Tam jaloused e needit a crack.

‘Dae ye mind ma faither whan e wis ma age?’

lads speired, yin efter anither.

‘Aye,’ Tam’d say. ‘A mind im.’

An then, lyk a cauf wi its heid in a bowie,

ilka lad wid laip up a Tam cud tell.

Afin they endit bi the burn

takin tent o the waater

whill the drooth in hauflins’ herts

wis slaked.

Cum thair pairtin

Tam wid hud ilka yin’s een

langer thin was canny fur ordinar.

Thir war things sayed atween een

that cudnae bi pit intae wards.

Irene Howat (Copyright)---