Digging for Bait

Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer

Digging for Bait

April 2, 2009 Poetry 5

Picture by Paul Rimmer, a rock pool at Ardnamurchan.

This is one of the poems from The Eurydice Rising sequence, which was published in poetry Scotland last year. It has a lot of Shetland references because I was originally inspired by the Shetland ballad King Orfeo, (it’s quoted in the first stanza), in which Orpheus is a piper, and actually gets Eurydice back. The title is also a Shetland reference. If you don’t want to tell where you got your bait for fishing you would say Sjussamillabakka or stakamillabakka – as non-committal as you could get!

Digging for Bait

Da notes o’ joy.
Stakkamillabakka –
Da notes o’ noy.
Sjussamillabakka –
Da god gabber reel,
dat meicht ha’ made a sick hert hale.

Between the sea and the shore.
Stakkamillabakka –
Between the rocks and the shore.
Is where I got this poem,
On water-polished shingle, where the sea
Drains bubbling
Over ribbed and wrinkled sand
And popping bladderwrack.
I found it in a rock-pool, cold as shadow,
With a gull’s feather floating in it,
And a thin blue sheen of petrol
Hazed like a mussel shell.

Sjussamillabakka –
The place without landmarks.
Stakkamillabakka –
Don’t look back.
Sjussamillabakka –
Never the same place twice.


  1. This is lovely, has a very nice rhythm to it. I love the water polished shingle too

  2. Jeanette Nowak says:

    i love this poem and it has special waning for me as Iake Seaglass sculptures and I call them Stakkamiljabakkas. You can view them on my facebook page Jeanette Nowak Art and Crafts. Such a wonderful word!

  3. Jeanette Nowak says:

    Spellcheck has changed two of my words – it should read ‘ Special meaning’ and I make’

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Hi! Nice to meet you Jeanette! I’ve checked out your page and love that cover picture. Thank you for those kind words!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *