My Experience of An Turas by Carol Dowson

Photo: an turca. An Turas is a a place to shelter from the elements whilst waiting on the local ferry arriving on the Scottish island of Tiree.

My first encounter with An Turas was one of bafflement, hence the poem 'An Turas: First Sighting'. The first sighting was on a very cold New Year's day in 2007. I liked the structure, mainly because of its diversity of materials and views, and planned to spend more time in it - but in the summer!

Photo: an turcas. I visited it again during the summers of 2009 and 2010, and took time to ponder it and the effect it had on me. There proved to be many facets to my experience of it, which means that I could write several different poems about it, much depending on where I 'am at' at the time I write.

I simply love being outdoors. Being enclosed for long periods of time is stressful to me, and so, if I were to be stuck in the glass cubicle at the end of An Turas for any length of time, I'd become desperate to get back into the open. Conversely, if it was a howling gale outside, An Turas offers a fine shelter - with a view. It is a very interesting piece of architecture.

Many people on the island (of Tiree) were not taken with it when it arrived. It seemed a useless expense, unattractive, that sort of thing. Tourists don't really know what it is unless they've picked up a brochure. Watching them from our holiday cottage, they saw it, entered it, and came out fairly quickly - generally they were waiting on the ferry. Kids played in it, but also around it. Others on the island, especially those in the Arts Council, commissioned it and are very proud of it.


An Turas: First Sighting

We stumbled upon it.
Baffling oblong
of stone, wood and glass
white, black and colour.
What to make of it?

Presbyterian eyes
searched for purpose:
What's it for? Why here?
Inconclusive journey over.
Had we known it was a journey.

An Turas

Baffling oblong beckons
the curious
eye along its geometry;
telescopy of stark openness
dark encasement
captivating belvedere.

Drawn in deftly
the sojourner
prospects forward stepping
the sky-capped walkway easily
towards the darkness
that will enwrap.

Ribbed black benevolent
shelter calls
attention to its shadows
in silence and stillness
undergird by flowing foundation
of age-old gneiss.

Transparent terminus entices
the treader
still further into the journey
that ends in a picture
of a world stepped out of.
The sojourner tarries no longer.

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