One of Them

They say, ‘You fit in,

You are fair,

You speak the language

Why don’t you go and live there?

You are one of them.’

Yes I am one of them

Pickled herring on black bread

Black pudding, forest berries

Red shoes, red hem

Bogs and spirits

Songs with melancholy lyrics

Tales that cut me deep

And make me weep

I could live there.

I am but a visitor.

Every time the plane lands

All looks fair

I feel like one of them.

Yet I do not share their story

Of war, occupation, fear

I have not been there.

It died once,

And all was grey

An empire of blood stormed and took it

But ‘There’ has been revived

Been repainted

Peace in its walls, sky again blue,

Made new

Yet a stranger has lived in this house

While I could not

I see it in the dew.

‘There’ was the ancestors’ birthplace

Various lives lived, passed

I have just chanced in passing.

‘There’ had been a shadow of a parting

Of no return

But I am not in a hurry.

I have sat with those left

Heard of talk and laughter

Truths return in and out of favour

Will I cling to them, dwell on it, covet it?

It catches my breath

For I was not there.

My life took a parallel road

That plies a different route

I shall never want to take the other road

For it is criss-crossed with shadows.

There is no glided frame

In which to hang my picture

I am, and yet I am not, one of them.