We Walked Anyway
That morning. The mist. The mountains
and sea invisible. The streets
flooded with overnight rain. We walked
anyway. Lobelias and campanulas
showing off purple-blue. Ferns
bright green with new growth.
The hurry-rush of water over rocks
drowning anything we could have said.
I followed the familiar curve of your calf and knee.
Swartbas and Tree Fuchsias thin
and upright in the forest.
Buckled branches forming
a tree-cave at the end of a long uphill.
A peaty soaked-earth smell.
Red clay and slippery fallen leaf
mulch clinging to our boots.
The way down quieter
but we still had nothing to say.
You shook my hand in the parking lot.
Drove away. Left me in the coffee shop
ordering breakfast, trying to work out
how I could do this without you.
Journey of Tongues
The way my grandmother stressed
my mother’s name: Marie – mu-reee –
her lyrical Welsh voice fattening
vowels so even her sternest command
sounded like an invitation to tea.
Her voice indifferent to the years
spent within England’s borders.
And here at the bottom of Africa
my brother and I tailored
our voices at home to say words
like pin and water the English way.
At school slouching back into
the flat nasal whine of our friends.
Learnt to say fok not fuck and swear
words my parents didn’t understand.
I tease my niece now
get her to say pin, water, home –
to pass the Englishness test.
But it is I who will always sound foreign
even to my own ears