Another thought on Wallasey

The other day, after posting about my birthplace and mentioning that I

haven’t been back for many years, but for me the word home will always mean the smell of salty wet sand on Harrison Drive beach when the tide is going out

I thought about it some more and realised that if somewhere can still pull on my homesick strings but I never go back in person, maybe it’s a somewhen that I hanker for.

Not my mid-to-late-teenage angst years, when the threat of adult responsibility sat uneasily on my slim shoulders. And not my childhood, although we did used to go to the beach often when we were kids.

The when I get homesick for is my early teens, which was a fragile but hopeful time of wistful yearning for future possibilities. Like the Irish Sea seen from Harrison Drive beach, it all lay stretched out ahead of me.

Wallasey, my birthplace

I was born in Wallasey, on the tip of the Wirral peninsula in northwest England. Couldn’t wait to leave the place and get away to sea at eighteen, but that had little to do with the town. It was only wanderlust. It wasn’t a bad place to grow up.

Haven’t been back for many years, but for me the word home will always mean the smell of salty wet sand on Harrison Drive beach when the tide is going out, and I returned to my birthplace in my novel Golden Triangle.

This poem won me first place in a competition. It’s called Another Tongue.

 

As summer flies south
he leaves the land a quiet place.
The brashest flash-in-the-pans have
faded into green manure and
left the stage clear
for mellow perennials
to get on with business.
Rose-hips ripen in the gentle light
and syrup of evening woodsmoke
heralds autumn, waiting in the wings
for his younger brother to depart.

 

How I love this season.
My earliest autumn memory
sees me putting away summer shorts
and dressing in tough shoes and businesslike denims,
before fashion claimed me,
before girls became more than a mild irritant;
sees me spending daylight fishing and tramping
in the living mossland that held
Wallasey apart from Wirral,
before the mossland was claimed
for the motorway and lost forever.

 

Forever? Not in this season.
Not while I smell the ancient
mud and vegetation that held
the saxon at bay for fourteen centuries,
until the motorway completed the invasion.
Waleas Eig: Island of Foreigners.
The silent black earth is not dead
but hidden under concrete, waiting.
While I still smell the earth in autumn
I remain a hidden foreigner in my land,
waiting.

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