Our featured publication for September is Letters to Rosie by Ross Wilson, published by Tapsalteerie.
‘In the winning simplicity of these recent poems, Ross Wilson charts all the freshness,
exhilaration and imaginative extension of first fatherhood in tones as clear as the new
consciousness of his baby daughter. In its unabashed humanity this pamphlet marks a
bright addition to his more politically engaged work; irrevocably changed by the birth of
his child, he strikes a note here as full of hope and potential as a thrush’s song on an April
morning.’ Gerry Cambridge
‘Letters to Rosie is a beautiful thing, a joy of a pamphlet. It chronicles Rosie’s growth
from first scan to toddler, mirroring in words the string of images hung on the wall by her mum. With their spare, contained language and acute observation, these poems are both funny and poignant… they gleam with light and tenderness, but there is never a scrap of sentimentality. Such acute observation is surely the very essence, always, at the heart of love. Letters to Rosie is a must-read, a gift of a book.’ Sheila Templeton
‘In Letters to Rosie, Ross Wilson has written a compelling celebratory record of the first
two years of his daughter’s life. Bridging time, generations and place, these intimate,
joyful and loving letters are poems full of wonder and light.’ Gerry Loose
Birthday, 20th September
In eight days I’ll be thirty nine.
Two hours ago, you were born.
Rosy face scrunched in a girn,
tea cosy hat keeping you warm.
Soothed by your Mum’s sweet tone,
your tiny fist curled my thumb;
our pulses ticked in time.
Clock hands caught the moment –
seven minutes past midnight,
seven pounds in my arms.
A birthday bundle delivered early.
Premature but perfect in every way.
How could you not have been here?
Smiling, giggling in your chair.
Seven months old, wee hand
thumping your table with pleasure
like a man slapping his thigh
in a comedy club, mouth-full of laughter.
Daddy plays the fool for Rosie,
a jester in the court of Her Cuteness,
jumping, hopping, pulling faces;
making the rattling caterpillar go
up high in falsetto,
down low in baritone.
Your eyes follow my movements.
Your ears pick up my shifts in tone.
A year ago the space you’re in
was empty and I, almost forty,
had no memories of you at all.
Now they go into me fast as you grow
into the space you make
in home and head.
And all I can think of is
how could you not have been here?
From nowhere to this chair into air
as I lift you, into my arms.
You’d haul yourself up
on my leather foot-stool
and sway, thumping
a chubby fist like a gavel,
erupting baby babble.
The stools slanted angle
made an ideal lectern
for a mini-preacher
pontificating in her pulpit.
Fluffy toys along the couch
were your assembly.
With no words to say
you preached word-sounds,
a-ga! a-da! da-da-da!
in a sermon on pure joy.
Ross Wilson comes from Kelty in West Fife and works full-time as an auxiliary nurse. The recipient of a Hawthornden Fellowship and a Clydebuilt Apprenticeship, his book Line Drawing was shortlisted for the 2019 Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year award. Letters to Rosie is his third poetry collection.
Letters to Rosie is available to purchase from the Tapsalteerie website.