Document 610

The Almond Tree

Author(s): Maureen Sangster

Copyright holder(s): Maureen Sangster


Ootby, far the gless wis het
wi the burnin bricht mou o the sun, Grandad.
A wee mannie mair suited tae
bidin unner a stane bit here thrivin
a Livingstone in Africa!

"Liars who say there canna be
a Scottish branch o the almond tree."
An His thunderin words proved richt.
His fingers, lang as the Nile,
coaxin first the riggin o the plant
an then its sails an then hoistin me up:
"You quine, bein a maiden,
breathe het summers on it
an find the weak crack,
the wee tinkle o growth
as the sheath aroon the unseen fruit
is peeled awa by the almond
rivin oot."

Inside, in a bed got up for the deid
wi the curtains shut an the only din
the clatter o distant tea cups, Grandad.
Only his heid stickin oot o the fite sheet
like a fibrous fattened tusk.
He wis up fur the kissin noo, an she,
Granny, who'd hardly said ane word
tae the mannie aa the time he lived
bent ower him, an pit her ugsome mou
up agin his. He'd tellt me some tales
ootby - o snakes, buggers o craiturs,
gripy an greedy wha had swallowed
ae moose fur breakfast an anither fur dinner
an then gaed slippity baPPITY
ower the flechy sands. Fat targets aa o them.
But if carressed, aye that wis the word he eesed,
fan injured - oot wid pop
the twa swallowed prey, nae a morsel taen
oot frae flesh or bane!

I wis feart then tae look at
the wye Granny wis feedin on Grandad's lips.
Made me think o a wee wriggling moosie
in by her mou or his
bit naethin came o that except
a muckle big funeral wi a lot o sponges
an a lot o tears,
Granny saying she widna manage wioot him.
Gweed God, she spent a her time wioot him
shut awa in the derk front room.
He'd only penetrated that shrine fan deid.

Inby, there wis a wee table
wi a green velvet skin
an ower it her ebony elephants trauchled
wi their freen, a plastic goose wi a nodding heid,
a bit like Grandad wis wi Granny
an a wee yealla cat -
didna seem tae belong tae the ithers:
seemed tae rin alane, unner a fierce gormless moon.

I thocht she'd gang back tae this:
Clutter o ornaments; curtains drawn;
fatality in the atmosphere bit
she wis oot in that greenhoose
the morn aifter the funeral
an there wis something green aboot her:

As Mum said
That coat, flapping, lang an keich coloured
shud hae been at last year's kirk jumble.
Bit she wis cryin as she touched
the lang leaves o the almond tree.

Ower late I thocht
tae love
her love a dry husk bereaved
an lacking Grandad's hands

bit it wis like the almond
her hert wrenching love that hid matured
an come oot
o the concealing skin o years.

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Cite this Document

APA Style:

The Almond Tree. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 23 February 2024, from

MLA Style:

"The Almond Tree." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 23 February 2024.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "The Almond Tree," accessed 23 February 2024,

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 610

The Almond Tree


Text audience

General public
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Year of composition 2000
Word count 494

Text medium


Text publication details

Publisher Chapman magazine
Publication year 2003
Place of publication Edinburgh
ISBN/ISSN 190370006X
Edition Centenary issue of magazine
Part of larger text
Contained in Chapman Magazine, Centenary Issue 102-103
Editor Joy Hendry
Page numbers 304

Text setting


Text type



Author details

Author id 249
Forenames Maureen
Surname Sangster
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1950
Educational attainment University
Age left school 18
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Place of birth Aberdeen
Region of birth Aberdeen
Birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Kirkcaldy
Region of residence Fife
Residence CSD dialect area Fif
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Teacher
Father's place of birth St Fergus
Father's region of birth Buchan
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Buchan
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Teacher
Mother's place of birth Skene
Mother's region of birth Aberdeen
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes For general use
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes In Scots-speaking company. Poetry writing/readings