Gadebridge Park

What is it like to be brought up in the same city that surrounded the hospital that you were born in?

Does it make you feel grounded, is it comforting to know the city like the lines on your palm?

How about if you can visit the same house which you took your first steps in?

Quite often, these are questions I am curious about. I am curious about a lot of things which influence a person’s life and perhaps more so how people might resist or adopt things which aren’t the obvious choice – whatever that is…

I was born in a town I hold no sentiment towards. There is nothing wrong with the city, I was just too young to remember anything. Last summer I visited the city, curious to see whether it was the physical space that would evoke memory – or whether I was just making the link between photos and the actual place. I still don’t really know for the most part, but it definitely did evoke something.

There was a bridge in a large park close to our old house. It stood over a stream which had trailing willow trees either side. This visit it was still white and the paint crackled, but underneath was beautifully overgrown. How could a handful of pictures and accounts from parents make this bridge which I remember only through pictures become the one tangible thing I base my very young years on?

I know we lived in a semi-detached house in a town just north of London, I know we had a very fluffy dog and I know the town had a lot of geese. Something about this bridge was significant, perhaps it was because it was the only thing from the pictures which remained unchanged in its physicality apart from some decay. There were other places in other pictures but they had been retouched and rebuilt. The bridge, like me – was still in its original form but older.

I don’t suggest that either moving away or staying connected with the city you were born in is better. But I do think having sentiment which lies in multiple cities does alter your sense of place. My sentiment lies in about five, perhaps 6 cities, with the new inclusion of Manchester in the last two years. They are different spaces which inspire different parts of me.
Some very important years were spent in the Netherlands, forming some strong friendships with others who came to find this tiny country their home. It really was home – and to some degree it still is. A house or flat is tangible, I’ve lived in about twelve of those – but certainly not all of them were home.

Home is not always singular, nor is it always tangible. It’s possible to find home in spaces and people.

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Innate trust

Should you know better?
Perhaps be more advised?
I cannot know, I am two years old
I cannot know what is moral and just
I cannot know who to believe or distrust
So teach me , mother
Teach me what is right from wrong
Teach me why I can no longer hear my father’s song
Was he a bad man? Is that why I’m here?
Living with your mother, burdening
I fear
When will you visit? Soon I’m starting school
Undoubtedly, you know best
I cannot know, I am three years old
I cannot know what is moral and just
I cannot know who to believe or distrust
So teach me, grandmother
Teach me how to read and write
Teach me to brush my teeth morning and night
On the weekends, mother returned
I don’t quite understand that yet
I have many other things to learn
Verbs and interpreting the hands of clocks
Lots
Of firsts I am sure grandmother will tell you about
But I can’t really know, I am four years old
I can’t really know if there is truth in what I’m told
I can’t really know that our family home is sold
So reassure me, mother
That our new home will be home
That my new school will be kind
And my room will be my own
Once again we live together
Mother and daughter
You knew best after all, it seems
I cannot know, I am six years old
I cannot know the speed at which time passes
I only see the shape of families
Of the children in my classes
Some days a father comes, some days a mother
Some days together, never any other
Though we live together, you’re away an awful lot
But I cannot really know why
I cannot grasp concepts as complex as those
Those which mean grandmother must greet me
At the school gates
Instead of you
But you know best
I cannot know, I am seven years old
I cannot appreciate the sarcasm of your new friend
I cannot understand why he laughs at my Indian eating style
I cannot understand why you do not teach me this joke
And fail to comfort me when my cheeks obviously soak
But I am ten years old now, mother
I know that was not moral or just
I know who I can believe and who I can trust
You should have known better
I know sarcasm and can use a knife and fork, too
You are also Indian, aren’t you, mother?
You also eat with your hands
With pride, as intended
But mother, I know why he laughed
It was not you that taught me
It was the masses of children in my classes
It was the television and the radio
Music and friendships
It was something I taught myself
For I am nineteen now, mother
My father’s song plays loud
For that, I am proud
He is not a bad man
That was not the reason why

My disjointed childhood
Was not part of your plan
You did not know better
You are just a human being
But you should know what is moral and just
You should know who to believe and distrust
So I’ll teach you, mother
Teach you to forgive yourself and not pander me
Teach you to be responsible
Teach you to empathise
That the world is not black and white
That I do love you
But, I know you are not always right

apron

Saudade

A child’s fingertips

On weighted keys of ivory

(the) bittersweet sound resonates

(with) my (the) inner child (which) contemplates

Why

Each note unearths a void

(hidden) within a childhood which evades my recollection

Frustration crashes and floods into each vacant space

Yearning for (a) memory of a safe place

Unobtainable from where I sit

Each note surfaces a hit

A strike

An absence

Of something I know exists

Because my eyes observe it

Rushed into adulthood without a trace

Position of power

The smaller person in all but the physical sense

Carry your shame on your slouching shoulders

Which stoop lower as your sins manifest

Into your movements and thoughts

Into your nightmares and into your chest

Drink them down like the liquor in your glass

Unjustifiable

You cannot give back a childhood

Or resurrect how a loving home once stood

Though, once you know this truly

She will be stronger than you ever were

A woman now, she cries no longer

So, stoop low with your guilt glazed eyes

Continue being disenchanted

With your mediocre life

Understand you are the only person

Paralyzed by guilt

I am scarred but I am content

Something you will never be

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