I am from a den under the dining table, behind the ironing board, from “Persil Washes Whiter” and singing “She wore red feathers…” along with the radio.
I am from the basement flat, warm, cosy with the smell of clean, damp washing.
I am from Bluebell Wood, the bunch of buttercups in a jam jar, the pile of flat grey pebbles gathered from the sands.
I am from the birthday tea and arguing on Sundays, from Andre with his red hair and fierce eyes, Auld Ernie who wasn’t old at all and Nanna Annan .
I am from the bearing of grudges, spats and the gentle, warm arms round me later.
From ‘red and geen should never be seen except upon an Irish queen’ and ‘your Nana’s taste is all in her mouth’.
I am from The Child’s Book of Prayers terrified in case I died in the night and the Lord took my soul and playing whist on Sunday nights. From Nana saying “Hide the cards it’s the minister!” if there was a knock at the door.
I’m from Annan and Scotland, my mother’s home-made lentil soup and Nana’s drop-scones with rhubarb and ginger jam.
From my Dad, and Mum on her bus thinking he was at the academy and asking him if he wanted a schoolboy ticket, the day, when she was wee, Mum fell in the Nith, caught typhus and almost died, and the first time Papa and I stood watching a huge electric storm rage across the Solway and he explained about electricity.
I am from sepia photos, one I found in Papa’s wallet that looks just like I did, his long dead baby sister, Nana on a huge motorbike with her hair in a flapper’s bob, Papa’s 40 years and more of safe driving badges and his Canadian war medals, a tiny silver maple leaf he always wore in his lapel, the box in the cupboard full of certificates of birth and deaths.
I’m from all of these things but they are all such a basic part of me that I haven’t needed to look at a single one of them to write this poem. They are what I carry with me and those that are physically lost to me I don’t regret because they are all still here with me if I look for them.