So the refrain of this has been knocking around in my head for a while, after I started really looking at the buildings around me here in Birmingham and realising how much they reminded me of the landscape I knew from back home, while also making me incredibly homesick.
I guess you could say this poem is sort of a love letter to the place I grew up.
I come from a land of red cliffs. Not red as in actually brown or the dark orange of rust, but red, the deep livid red of drying blood, an open would, the lipsticked smile of a woman by candlelight.
I come from green fields, darkling woodland and red cliffs.
The sand here is not yellow but the rich hue of amber, the sea sweeping grey-blue shadows up the shoreline.
Here, the soil is the living flesh of earth, thick and clay, staining boots and hands; the sheep have been dyed pink by rain.
I come from seaside, from sand and salt, rain and wind lash, where winter moans through rigging and bells toll the tide, from lobster pots, fishing nets, the reek of storm-washed seaweed.
I come from cheap fairground jingle, from cotton candy, donkey rides, barbeque smoke and sugar; I am from childish wonder and youthful delinquency, from surfboard, air rifle, tombstoning.
I come from lighthouse, rock shoal, reef and sandbar; from weather eye, clifftop watch, lantern, the wreckers. I come from a land of hidden coves pockmarked with nooks and caves, from rowboats and secret tunnels, smugglers, pirates, espionage.
I come from skirling gulls and apple trees, bale hauling, sheep shearing, from early lambs and frostbite.
I come from a land of granite tors and red cliffs, heaven’s garden and the Old Nick’s playground; where ‘yes’ is arr, where ‘mist’ is smeech and me ‘andsome is a universal address second only to moy luvver.
I come from red diesel and drink drive, from rangy longdogs, drowned kittens, teens with no prospects and the wrong kind of working class accent; from fox hunt, rabbit snare, pigeon shoot, subsidy, bankrupt; Spanish overfishing and rusted hulls of trawlers, from farms gone to pasture to house herds whose RP does not know these hills.
I come from calloused fingers, chicken wire, UKIP posters in every window.
I come from clotted cream and scones, Spitchwick dipping and the drum of Nelson’s fort, from woodcarver, painter, palmreader. I am from Dewerstone, piskie-laid, from dead men’s paths and crossroad graves; from cold snap, pony drifts, will o’ the wisp, bleached bones, brushfire. I am from Hell hound, Huntsman, the Stables.
I have come to a land of red bricks. The red here is tarred, soot-stained and dusty, I have come to metal tang, hammer blow, industry. The sea does not touch these stones, but sometimes I stop to listen for the pull of the tide, the bay of the Wistman’s pack, and know that my blood still runs with Westcountry grit.
I come from a land of red cliffs, and come wind, come drought, flood, come storm, they do not know the meaning of break.