My kin come from labouring stock:
Bricklayers, farmers, potters made good,
Kiln-stokers, Herdsmen, keepers of the flame.
I was the first to go out into the world,
To take a different mortarboard in my hand,
Though my life feels more limited now,
Being borne of books. Not for me
The diurnal life: the soil, the seasons,
The sun, the earth. I’ve taken my heirs’
Telluric inheritance, made of myself,
In this realm of words, a straw man,
For going against the grain of things.
My kin knit closer than cross-stitch.
They’re brickwork on a chimney-breast,
Its hearthstone lit by filial warmth.
I envy their muddy boots and 4x4s,
Their ruddy-faced Cath Kidson kids.
And far-from-the-madding-crowd ways.
I feel it sharply when our paths collide,
When proximity necessitates we reach out
With a familiar smile, loose embrace,
Or fumbled handshake. Choosing the last,
When we part without a backward glance,
As if protecting ourselves from later grief,
Is this the product of the supposed belief
That distance breeds not distance, but love?
Difficult to know. Harder to broach.