Where I’m from…

One of the houses you can see down there was, believe it or not, the house where I lived aged 0-3. It’s on the Isle of Erraid, on the West coast of Scotland, opposite the holy island of Iona, which more people have heard of. It’s a big sadness of mine that I don’t get to go there more often, in fact, I haven’t been back for years now. The truth is, it’s one of the most difficult-to-get-to places in the world.

over-houses

I often start performances with a poem I wrote about Erraid. Mainly because I know it well and it’s a poem that works well in performance because of the sounds. Hence why it looks a bit out of place on the page:

Morning Milking


Six am: the day

a pale sharp blue

down the track

my hand in my dad’s

everything waking

in frosted outlines

me in my wellies

and bobble hat

walking the morning.

Into the byre

sleepy and deep with dung

mixed with the mist

of breath in the moo

of the morning.

I stand on the gate

watch, as my dad

takes the teats

between fingers

and eases drips

from the udders

sending the shudders

up and down my spine

in time with the milking.

And the droplets of milk

and of mud and of love

cling in the air

of the clean blue morning

stinging the two red dots

of my cheeks

bright as my boots

and bobbling hat.

Silent, I watch

wanting to seal and stamp

this moment in an envelope

addressed to my older self

there, on the mat of a London flat

next to the semi-skimmed pasteurised

saying: you were once

this child of the morning.

You can become her again.

This poem was published in The Freedom of Paper and Ink (Salt), the anthology of the school-based poetry project Write Lines, let by poet Sundra Lawrence. I worked on Write Lines in 2007 as Project Coordinator, which is where I learnt a lot of what I’m doing now on the London Teenage Poetry SLAM.

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4 thoughts on “Where I’m from…

  1. Dear Miriam,

    I’m so glad to find ‘Morning Milking’ on line, as I greatly enjoyed it when you recited the poem at the creative letterwriting workshop yesterday. Thank you for arranging the group. I learnt so much in the two hours, in a very peaceful, restful yet stimulating way.

    I’m hoping to get to Slow London on 21st Nov. With best wishes, Frances

    (I’m sorry I’ve lost your email address)

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