The Price of Whiskey

Fiona Nuttall

A peaty malt pervades the air –
Laphroaig perhaps.
Sublime representation of water, island and barley,
Incarcerated in sherry casks
For ridiculous numbers of years,
Though not eternity,
A purgatory of waiting and repenting.

Before a new canvas of sin
Is painted in alcoholic haze
And seeking for warmth on cold Scottish nights.
Touching and tasting
The forbidden.

The village would purge itself
Of its wrong-doers.
But who is calm and clean enough
To cast the first stone against the architrave?
Who will go public at the door of adultery?
Not even the Minister dare
For fear of past misdemeanour;
Too many mistakes of history and hormones.

Bovine, they herd and mutter
And become glassy-eyed and distant,
As each recalls past rutting
In inappropriate hollows.

Guilt, gall and vinegar
Spoil the taste of lust and sweet memory;
Sanctimony cloaking culpability and shame.

They turn instead to Islay, Jura and Bruichladdich,
To cleanse the palate
And erase the recollection.

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