Half-written Love Letter / Another Country
Half-written Love Letter
My parents came here after hearing the seas
of the British Isles, as if they put their ears
to its shell and the waves threw themselves tipsy
against conch, willing them to come over.
Then there were the things
we understood without words;
how the sun in these parts is a slow swell,
the coastal walks of Dundee,
graffiti hieroglyphics, damp shoes
against Sheffield cobbles and
the tastebud clench of a tart apple.
We learnt this country fiercely,
my father felt its knuckles crush his jaw,
my mother delivered its children.
I have been kissed deeply by its tongue,
it has licked Yorkshire on my vowels,
I am a half-written love letter
I do not know where to send.
So when go home becomes
a neighbourhood war cry,
we understand we are not what you wanted,
have been written clean out of your folklores.
But we have built here, loved here,
died here, already carry the heartache of leaving.
When we go home, we go back reeking of you.
So we left. Every single one of us
who’d ever been told to leave the country – gone.
No one stopped to look at the carcass we left behind.
I’d be lying if I said I knew where we all ended up,
whether this is a happy story.
The month I lived in Dakar
a shy artist admired the bloom of my skin,
how much darker I was becoming
under the sun. A flower finally flourishing.
A year later he told me he missed me
in English – not his mother tongue –
so he could be sure I understood
and the sun shone back on my face.
I’d like to live in that feeling –
if I could turn it into another country, I would.
Reproduced with permission from A Little Resurrection by Selina Nwulu (Bloomsbury Poetry, 2022)
Selina Nwulu is an essayist, campaigner and social researcher who specialises in social and environmental justice, education and global politics. She has toured her poetry extensively, both internationally, and throughout the UK. Her writing has been widely published in a variety of outlets including the critically acclaimed anthology New Daughters of Africa and More Fiya, edited by Kayo Chingonyi. She was Young Poet Laureate for London 2015-6. Her debut collection, A Little Resurrection, was published by Bloomsbury (2022).
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