A Narrative In Five Poems (The Blue Nib)

A narrative in 5 poems by Roy Moller
The Blue Nib  Issue 31, 11th June 2018

I was conceived in Canada and born and adopted in Scotland, where I first saw the light of day the day the Clyde Tunnel opened. I started songwriting and performing music in my twenties, eventually releasing seven solo albums.

My poetry has been published in the likes of Ink, Sweat & Tears, And Other Poems, Lighthouse Literary Journal and Neu! Reekie! #UntitledTwo.

These poems are some snapshots from my birth story. My mother arrived in Edinburgh as a pregnant 28-year-old reporter from a Toronto newspaper, and within a fortnight of giving birth to me had flown back home, never to see me again or reveal the name of my father. In 2015, I found I could have my adoption records opened and discovered more about the circumstances of my birth and, eventually, who my father was (a photographer on the paper she worked for). He died in 2001, she in 2014. I’m now in touch with family I never knew, and have a better idea of who I am and how I happened.

Produce of Canada

Toronto’s strict –

no safety measures,
I started into being
before I was thought of,
a pest who made
the test ring pink.

Toronto’s strict –

unmarried mothers
are penned together
as fallen women,
there’s no safe

Toronto’s strict –

so fly off-radar –
off to Scotland,
where grain’s unloaded,
on some manifest
yet to be uncovered,
(maybe on your paramour’s
brother’s money).

Toronto’s strict –

you chose to keep me,
keep me secret.
Keep me to give me


(The Scottish Society for the Adoption of Children,
Edinburgh, Saturday, April 6th, 1963).

Here’s the impressive

crescent threshold,
you walk me over,
your bumpful of awkward.

Here’s your contact,

a Miss Duncan,
caseworker, nurse
and fixer.

Here’s a chair

for girls and women
who ripen in this season
of lambs and surges.

Here they welcome

embarrassed bellies
crammed with hope
for barren homes.

Here’s the nib

and the proforma,
provenance laced
with semi-fiction.

Here’s a sketch

of a brief mother,
and a man who’s name’s

Third of July

Lauriston’s midweek road procession

skirts the Simpson birth pavilion,
a nurse follows protocol,

severs the umbilical.

Carol, you’re free to hold me now
in your eyes and, maybe, arms.

Fifty miles west, a Royal pageant –

Linthouse shakes with drum kerfuffle,
bagpipes squirt and banners ripple.

The Queen hits the starting button,

Clyde Tunnel curtains open,
state car glides, pendant flapping.

35mm greyscale action

catches the hour of my detachment,
spliced into Movietone reel.


Nationality is an accident of time, like love.

David Helwig, Considerations

Regular parents take what they’re given,

special children, they get chosen –

me because I met the inspection

with a gurgle and a winning smile.

So I’m lulled to dream

of cots in sequence

tagged with cardboard,

boys on offer.

My new parents pay their shillings,

take the package home for kitting

out with buttons, braid, and toggles

fished from a tartan tin.


Once water dissolved those

Edinburgh’s mirrors
sheer distance must have tempered

memories of Edinburgh shimmer,

sun on buff brick, tan chimneys
liner stacks on hard blue sky,

while, summer-swollen,

you plotted coordinates
over the ocean. Back home

this would feel like a phantom

pregnancy or a dream or something,
an episode of somebody else.

Blue/grey eyes in every mirror;

now I see they’re yours by reproduction
what do I do now?


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