Sheenagh Pugh – Frontier


In this municipality
three borders meet
and for the longest time
there was one language.

Sami drove reindeer
where the grass grew:
fish in the Pasvik never knew
which bank was Russia.

Little willows and aspens
wear snow like spun sugar,
but the dark pines bear it
on bowed shoulders.

At the mining town’s back
an iron mountain rises:
one black slag peak
against a white ridge.

When the burned town lay
ashes on snow,
ten children were born
in the mine’s tunnels:

there are those who still recall
the Red Army soldiers
who came down, in ’45,
to lead them back to light.

These days, Murmansk trawlers
lie up here for repair,
the Thursday market
glows with matryoshkas,

and the town bandstand
boasts an onion cupola
left in no-man’s-land
by a Russian squaddie

for a waiting Norwegian,
while their two officers
admired the geese crossing
Finnmark’s endless sky.


Sheenagh Pugh is a poet based in Shetland.  Her latest collection, “Short Days, Long Shadows” was published by Seren  in 2014.

Poetry website:
Other website (translations, prose, articles):

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