After a day off to catch up with Uni work, This is it is delighted to be sharing this wonderful poem from Sharon MacGregor. Death of a Plashack first appeared in ‘Still me’ – an anthology of poetry and prose created by a group of Open University students and published by Pewter Rose.
Death of a Plashack
Did the bridges break thee,
humble sons of Galilee, gathered
on that bleak tip of Black Isle
where hippies and outlaws, never
brought up to it, clambered
like children over rocks at Rosemarkie
and spent their days trokin highs.
What changed on this land that bears
a strange light, did they bring
new fish to your plate, no biggar-man,
thee, who with never a curse carried out
droog-droogle in thine bauchles –
mair even than the Jenny mucks –
whilst watching tumblers in the ocean.
At now kucka, no-one knows how
to barb a hook. Were you there
before Him, or was the Lord aboot thee
the day the last of the plashack died.
Glossary and info:
This poem was written in memory of Bobby Hogg, the last speaker of the Cromarty fisherfolk dialect, who died in October 2012.
plashack: plaice (the death of a plashack represents Bob Hogg, his language and the culture of Cromarty)
never brought up to it: a way of saying that someone was not brought up to speak this way
biggar-man: large flounder
droog-droogle: heavy work in wet weather
bauchles: old, worn shoes
Jenny mucks: women working the land
tumblers: poirpoise or dolphins
At now kucka: a greeting e.g. what you up to friend
no-one knows how to barb a hook: no-one knows how to speak the dialect of the fishermen
In interviews, Bob Hogg said that the fisherfolk were possibly descended from those at Galilee. The fisherfolk of Cromarty were very religious, never swore, and used the Lord’s name daily in their speech, but never in a blasphemous way. They had their own names for fish, including plashack for plaice.