A Short Walk – Ross Wilson

A Short Walk

The maternity ward is a short walk
from the ICU where I work
long shifts among lives in the balance
and visitors counting the breaths
of those unable to breathe for themselves.

As I walked out on my break one day
I thought of the rooms I cleaned
in hotels when I was young;
the arrivals and departures, the bus tours,
the never-ending revolving doors.

My reflection moved in a window
framing the Necropolis beyond its pane.
Then the atmosphere changed like a season;
the cold winter air I’d been breathing in
turned warm as spring in bloom.

A tiny finger curled my thumb.
I cradled a bundle of flesh and bone.
Where did she come from?
The obvious answer couldn’t explain
the lightness in my arms.

Or the heaviness in my head
as I returned to work, carrying
the weight of what I know:
the maternity ward is a short walk
from a long shift in ICU.

Ross Wilson works full-time as an Auxiliary Nurse in Glasgow.

Featured Publication – Letters to Rosie by Ross Wilson

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
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.

For Rosie

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.

Echo – Ross Wilson


The voices of ducks,
doggies and birdies
echoed in the caves
of our mouths.
Ack! Ack!
Oof! Oof!
Weet! Weet!
In the underpass,
I let your name rise
deep from my chest
so you could hear it
bounce back at us,
as moments like this
will come back
when we are far
from here,
and your hand
no longer needs
my hand.


Ross Wilson works full time as an Auxiliary Nurse in Glasgow. His first full collection was published by Smokestack Books in 2018. His poems have appeared in The Dark Horse, The Honest Ulsterman, Edinburgh Review, and other publications.

Au’um – Ross Wilson


I pointed to leaves
scattered in the gutter,
and branches in the trees
they’d fallen from.
In autumn, I said,
leaves turn golden
and are shed
like feathers in a breeze
whipped-up by wings
beating into flight.
I didn’t mention nights
drawing in. Or time
flying. I kept it light
as the leaf lifted from
the gutter in your palm,
as you uttered, au’um.


Ross Wilson works full time as an Auxiliary Nurse in Glasgow. His first full collection was published by Smokestack Books in 2018. His poems have appeared in The Dark Horse, The Honest Ulsterman, Edinburgh Review, and other publications.