Jackie Kay by Claudia Alonso (2015)

Jackie Kay by Claudia Alonso (2015) University of Salford Art Collection

Caravan in Avielochan – Weekly poem by Chancellor Jackie Kay CBE


​​​​​​Professor Jackie Kay CBE, University Chancellor and Scots Makar, is sharing a series of poems with colleagues, students and members of the public, reflecting on the current period of uncertainty that we are in.

This week, we are sharing Jackie’s poem ‘Caravan in Avielochan’, which has been written to celebrate Gay Pride. Originally published in the collection BANTAM (2017).


‘Caravan in Avielochan’

The rain on the caravan roof – a skin drum, or

birds dancing – and in the morning,

the hens come to the caravan’s steps, feathery feet,

on the hunt for bacon, maybe egg.

Then – guess what? BIG surprise! The period arrives!

I’m eleven. You’re eleven! Claire Innes says.

Some don’t get them till they’re fourteen. Lucky you.

Don’t tell your brother. Brothers are not supposed to ken.

And then, to the chemist in Aviemore, in the Morris Minor,

to get the towels mum says are like nappies.

I’m disappointed. They’re nothing like nappies!

I’m all emotional. You’ll feel all emotional;

It’s natural. In the caravan, in the middle of the night,

Claire turned to me, the wee curtains shut tight,

the rain pitter-pattering the roof. Wheesht! Wheesht!

I went dead quiet. Not a word from me, not a word.

You’ve a forest, there, Claire said, softly (she had no pubic hair!)

Then she pushed her tongue to the roof of my mouth –

and we kissed, we kissed, we kissed. We really did.


Published in BANTAM, reprinted with kind permission of Picador Publishers.

Don’t miss Jackie’s weekly series of online literary and musical performances. ‘Makar to Makar’ will showcase a line-up of established talent and emerging voices from Scotland and around the world. Read more about ‘Makar to Makar’ here.

Follow Jackie on Twitter @JackieKayPoet to hear a new poem every Sunday.