And If You Go Home, What Then?

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land: it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

I wrote this blog piece a while ago, but I was saving it for the end of the tour. Then on Tuesday I performed at Hexham, and an audience member came to speak to me after the show. She said she was in her fourth year of travelling, looking for ways to stay in the UK, reluctant to return to Australia. One of the lines towards the end of the show had struck a chord with her – “when you look at your possessions and realise they’re only empty bowls”. We talked a little bit about how hard it is to go home, to find a place among people who have (seemingly) stood still while you have changed so profoundly, the feeling of moving along different time-streams. So, for her, I’m posting this now…

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I didn’t know it would be possible to get culture shock coming back home. That the longer I was away, the more thoroughly I waded into another culture (however imperfect my understanding of it), the more difficult it would be to return.

Arrivals

 

My mother tells me I was grey

when I arrived at the terminal

wearing the thin salwar kemeez

made for me in Bangalore,

where the pink had been cut

perfectly to fit.

 

British skies are as leaden

as a stressed-out heart

stripped of joy and songs,

they are trumpet mutes.

No-one wears pink,

not if they are grown up.

 

People go about their business

without any audible fuss,

no constant grind of abused

brakes or cacophonous horns.

Tarmac is a black magic,

siphoning away sound.

 

But the faces at the wheels

are hardened gargoyles

printed with all passions,

indulged and thwarted.

Fat hangs from their jowls

like shames made flesh.

 

 

 

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About Kirsten Luckins

Poet and performer. North East Programme Co-ordinator for Apples and Snakes. First collection, The Trouble With Compassion, launched March 2016 and available from Burning Eye Books. First solo show, The Moon Cannot Be Stolen, voted second in Saboteur Awards 2014. Second show currently under construction. Poet-in-Residence at the Heroism & Heartbreak project, Hartlepool Community Archive, looking at WW1 maritime stories.
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