Billia Croo

This long poem features in Ebban an Flowan, the world's first poetic primer on marine renewable energy, by myself and Laura Watts, with photographs by Alistair Peebles, two of which feature here. The book focusses on the Orkney Islands. Billia Croo is a bay on the west coast; it hosts the main EMEC test site of for wave energy devices. 

Billia Croo test site; Alistair Peebles, 2009


after Barry Cunliffe

culture is richest where there’s
the greatest ratio
     land : coast


this patch of the western
ocean’s coruscating garden

recalls my favourite song
(mishearing) the sea’s very hum-

drum … – but no, there’s not
one ocean, not when such an

infinite mix of blues can
outshine the maps cerulean


the sea is there for a solan
to push his wings against

or plunge in, reinventing
the medium – when the light

comes right through them
the waves lets slip wrack

and tangle, pitching round
until they go breaking on

the boulder beach, crashing
under Row Head, hassling

brittlestars and urchins, or splash
near the shelduck’s dozing

on their green sun shelf –
there’s no need to worry

that any wave is wasted
when there’s all this motion


along the bay there’s
the promise of a new world

from each new device connect-
ed to the cable that runs

out under the wild rocks,
into the diamond space

inside those three buoys –
this is where the metal

gets salt-wet : and that’s
the only true test – the problem

is elastic : what kind of roots
will grip fast with moorings

subject to ebb, flood, flux,
in a surge of such force?


what’s solid was once liquid
as with rock and sand

which nature divided –
like us – these waves were

tugged and formed, in
slowness, slowness that

we’ve lost, for there’s no
way to relearn the tide’s

happy knack of infinitesimal
growth, except by sloshing

around, or waiting, stranded,
on the heave of the moon

Oyster wave energy device, EMEC test centre; Alistair Peebles, 2009
ebban an' flowan
a primer for marine renewable energy
Alec Finlay and Laura Watts, with Alistair Peebles
pb, 56 pages, morning star, 2015; edition of 500 copies

10.00 GBP
13.00 EUR

ebban an' flowan can be purchased from our online bookshop
or from Amazon
Listen to the interview featured on Radio Orkney here, starting at 16:05 minutes.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave a comment...