It’s shameful to be proud of where you’re from.
Or where I’m from it is. So you were lucky.
At school, we learned about Britain, England.
Our lessons taught us to avoid our history;
History taught us we avoid our lessons.
Our grandparents stood for the King. We stand
For tact and the George Cross, humanism and football,
Beatings, cosmopolitanism and hate.
I could have come to love the fens. I do
Now, almost, belatedly: the hugeness,
The sense of being at sea, but with windmills.
I think I’m not the homesick type. I doubt
I could have done what you did with Kinross.
A soul accreted there. You tended it.
Every time you thought anything, the hills
Cupped it and another layer was formed.
And every generation starts with rock
And builds a personality. And the rock
Is not a blank, but the compacted past.
But this beaded thread between our houses –
Durham, Newcastle, Berwick, that farm
On the cliff edge, the translucent sea –
Gives me health, composure, should I have need.
Here, on my way to see you, I’m at home.