Salt of the earth


My kin come from labouring stock:

Bricklayers, farmers, potters made good,

Herdsmen, kiln-stokers, keepers of the flame.


I was the first to go out into the world,

To take another mortarboard in my hand,

Though my mind feels the lesser now


For being borne by books. Not for me 

The diurnal life: the soil, the seasons,

The sun, the rain. I’ve taken from my heirs


What's rightfully theirs, kept for myself

In this realm of words, slim possibilities,

Still-born dreams and ambitions.


My kin knit closer than cross-stitch,

Like brickwork on a chimney-breast

Or a photograph framed by filial warmth.


I envy their muddy boots and 4x4s,

Their ruddy-faced Cath Kidson kids.

Their far-from-the-madding-crowd ways.


I feel it sharply when our paths meet:

The moment divides itself between

A lasting embrace, slight smile,


Or swift handshake. Choosing the last,

We part with nary a lingering glance,

As if reserving it for later, greater grief.


Or is this the sum of misplaced belief:

Distance breeds not distance, but love.

Difficult to know. To each his own.