#poetscorner is a feature in which PTL Editors ask writers to share a poem of theirs with the internet. We also ask them to divulge on how they started writing poetry, what inspired the poem in question and why it remains a personal favourite. The idea being to bask in the glory of the written and/or spoken word. Oh dear…
I have a tricky relationship with poetry. I love to read it, I’m not so great at writing it. But that’s the thing with poetry; the ‘great’ part isn’t the point. Poetry is about expression; Aristotle said that ‘poetry expresses the universal’. That’s what draws me to it. So blame humanity’s need for expression for my sporadic forays into poetry-writing. If it evokes something in you, then I’m glad. But this poem was for me. ;
During my undergrad, I did a postcolonial module, and read a powerful poem called Home-coming Son, by Tsegarye Gabre-Medhin. This poem is a response to that: the narrator is an African immigrant in a Western culture.
Watched, I walk, a stranger darkened by sun never felt;
My greatest strength, here is weak.
Here. in the land of the free.
Freedom smells of progress, tastes of rain-
Bow to the perpetual: grey.
This God cries, eternal;
Pitter-patter on the cobbled-stones
The tempo beats a hereditary memory: cobbled shoes beating
Down on wild lands, savage hands.
I remember what I do not know;
Forget all that I do.
I am Here but I am of There.
Watched, watched, watched.
Black, the Shepherd leaves behind;
Cast out of what was never mine
Forced in to what I will never be.
Eyes of colour missing from their land:
Blue, they judge. Green, condem.
Hazel begrudge the freedom that is
Grey – This God cries.
Their streets awash with my remembered sweat;
To never forget what I never knew.
I am seen, then wished away;
These rainbow stares, fixed on the intruder –
The bringer of shadows, with powers of Death;
Voices hushed, pulses racing – a trapped animal,
Averted gazes hardened, unremembered memories of their own
Drive this hate to my dark unknown.
Out, cast away from the towers of rock,
They make a mockery of the mountains of my birth
Contrived concertos to mimic the hidden harmony of my construction,
Of their destruction.
Their matricidal passions their pallet
They paint: red.
My jailer masquerades as freedom,
Confined here by my fear
Solitary, cowardice chains me.
My mother’s land, no more is welcome,
This strange art, sculpted by their hatred.
Spirits suffered sentence me,
Inscribe the Mark of Cain;
Their bitterness borne on my barely-burdened brow.
The grey of my soul a fusion I cannot deny
Betrays me as an outsider; I am of Them.
An impostor, not the son they want returned:
The birdsong unheard, the leaves undisturbed
By the excitement of the breeze.
This silence cries out:
The eternal dark calls me home as laughter
Erupts from my dormant heart.
The tickle of giddy grass caresses my finally-freed feet,
This longed-for sun baptising my natural cloth;
Black, I am the inky sky sprinkled with shine.
Shadow dependent on light,
Day only cherished through the living of night.
I live in sunset;
Where Black and White raise hands to shake;
To mend this time, not to break
I die in sunrise,
As my warring selves wake
And meet as friends for peace’s sake.
I walk, I leap, I laugh, I run.
And breathe the air of my released ancestors.
And hear the regret of my once-oppressors.
And see the outline of my hope and dreams
And taste the freedom of my sleep:
The journey through this empty tomb,
At last has brought me Home
Sonia is the Editor of LITERATURE at PTL. She is currently undertaking an MA in Publishing at Kingston University, having graduated from Brighton University with a degree in English Lit & Lang. Education is cool. In other Sonia related info, she can turn any conversation into a game of Six Degrees to Harry Potter and is also a Beyoncé stan. Bow down bitches.
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