Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Liz Berry

HOMING

HOMING

HOMING

For years you kept your accent
in a box beneath the bed,
the lock rusted shut by hours of elocution
how now brown cow
the teacher’s ruler across your legs.
 
We heard it escape sometimes,
a guttural uh on the phone to your sister,
saft or blart to a taxi driver
unpacking your bags from his boot. 
I loved its thick drawl, g’s that rang.
 
Clearing your house, the only thing
I wanted was that box, jemmied open
to let years of lost words spill out –
bibble, fittle, tay, wum,
vowels ferrous as nails, consonants
 
you could lick the coal from.
I wanted to swallow them all: the pits,
railways, factories thunking and clanging
the night shift, the red brick
back-to-back you were born in.
 
I wanted to forge your voice
in my mouth, a blacksmith’s furnace;
shout it from the roofs,
send your words, like pigeons,
fluttering for home. 
Close

HOMING

For years you kept your accent
in a box beneath the bed,
the lock rusted shut by hours of elocution
how now brown cow
the teacher’s ruler across your legs.
 
We heard it escape sometimes,
a guttural uh on the phone to your sister,
saft or blart to a taxi driver
unpacking your bags from his boot. 
I loved its thick drawl, g’s that rang.
 
Clearing your house, the only thing
I wanted was that box, jemmied open
to let years of lost words spill out –
bibble, fittle, tay, wum,
vowels ferrous as nails, consonants
 
you could lick the coal from.
I wanted to swallow them all: the pits,
railways, factories thunking and clanging
the night shift, the red brick
back-to-back you were born in.
 
I wanted to forge your voice
in my mouth, a blacksmith’s furnace;
shout it from the roofs,
send your words, like pigeons,
fluttering for home. 

HOMING

Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère