The Burn Flows into the Sea (2020) (poems)

2020 was a difficult year, when we were all aware of absent friends – those who have died, and those whom we have been unable to see, for whatever reason.

On Friday 6 November 2020, as part of the To Absent Friends festival, artist, writer and Lapidus Scotland facilitator Jane Walker led an online writing event for grieving and remembrance.

Jane facilitated the event from the beach at Lunderston Bay near Gourock. She guided participants, who were all attending online, to write memories of absent friends, thinking about the elements of fire and water. Jane then undertook a simple ceremony of ‘letting go’, floating paper boats on water, and burning them in fire.

These are some of the poems that were written in memory of absent friends.



I work to recall the heft the noise of you
the height and breadth and space of you
the lumpy-jointed hands of you
the belly laugh and brows of you.
That tooth you disconcertingly removed
to squeals from your granddaughter.
That spade, the ladder, the glass covered beds for tender things.
You could care for tender things.

Your pride in your uniform,
nightly-polished shoes,
hats with chequered band or
from a Christmas cracker that never fit or
bunnet at a famer’s angle.
Leaning one foot up on the park gate
talking beasts and combines
you in that landscape.

Kitchen squabbles then silence for the news.
Scrape of spoon in semolina bowl counting currants
around the red formica topped table that you made
with drawers and a pull down cupboard for baking trays.

You could be skilled.

If only I had known that gentle carpenter.

  • Sandra Birnie



You were the life and soul of the party,
Hip Hip Hurrah you would shout,
as you handed out the best G and T
with tiny small poppadums.

You were the life and soul of our camps,
Hip Hip Hurrah you would shout,
as we gathered around the fire
and you would sing in your mellifluous voice
‘You can be anything you want to be’.

You were the life and soul of the marches,
Hip Hip Hurrah you would shout,
as you wore your blue French beret adorned with yellow stars.
I’m glad you managed to be forever European.

You were the beating heart of the family,
Hip Hip Hurrah you would shout.
Forever proud , forever interested, forever silly.
You told us time was running out and it was.

In you there were no half measures, not in your gin,
not in your singing, not in your passions,
not in your love, not in your zest for life.

  • Lois Cameron



Sinking in loss, mine and others – the collective consciousness

Long lists of missing people, places and unfulfilled dreams

My puzzled spirit asks – Who have you lost? Where can’t you go? What can’t you do? Unfulfilled dreams – is your life over?

As the questions resonates, I feel the loving presence of lost people, the majestic spirit of those places and dreams that can be realised

The question arises – why do you feel so powerless?

The connection of love knows no boundaries nor virus, it is steadfast and majestic

Go inside, reconnect with yourself and you will reconnect with everything and everyone

Separation is an illusion

Love eternal

We are not limited in how much we can do, or give and receive, as long as we stay connected to our true spirits…

  • Avril McGeown


I have walked…

I have walked
on hot coals
carried ash & stone
laid them   let them go
at a rainbow’s end
in the River of Love
on an artists’ beach &
inside Fingal’s Cave
today I’ll send them on their way
once more
in a boat
sweet as sugar
light as balsa
orange as setting suns
one will navigate multi-coloured pebbles
burn into sea
at Lunderston Bay
as the other drifts away in scarlet flame & smoke with

Kev’s & the CC

now I know they’re in good company
I can say goodbye

  • Kay Ritchie


Burn to the Sea

Calum Andrew my first born boy,
From the start I didn’t bring you joy,
5 days of labour and a difficult birth,
I was unable to love you the way you are worth.

Your beautiful blue eyes, how handsome become,
I am so proud of you, so proud to be your mum.
For whatever reason, we clashed from the start,
Now you are Spain, and now we’re apart.

I’ve had to admit this separation was needed,
Some time to heal and grow has preceded.
I know this is difficult, I know this is sad,
Time to discover ourselves, be happy and glad.

What sort of a mother says a goodbye?
For 7 years we’ve struggled and strived.
I am a good mum, by letting you go.
In doing this to you my love will flow.

I’m going to pack your room with fondness and love,
And that love will flow from a higher power above.
With care and love I’ll pack your things away,
I know your light will shine each and every day.

I miss you much, but we are closer apart,
These are new beginnings, this is our fresh start.
Feel my love, feel my heart, feel me there.
I will always love you, support you and care.

With distance apart, now we can be ready,
Have breathing space, some time to be steady.
My baby boy you always will be,
And when you are ready you will come home to me.

Living in Spain with your dad you are well,
The darkness has gone from your eyes I can tell.
You have a chance to grow into a man,
But you’ll always be my baby as that’s where our journey began

I send you my love, you’re life’s a big thrill,
And always remember – YOU ARE, YOU CAN and YOU WILL.

  • Vivianne Wilkie

With thanks to everyone who took part on the day.

“Paper boat” by sharokma is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
Lunderston Bay by Jane Walker, 2020

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