My mother’s journey

by Liz Trew

Her first visit to my father’s country
she grips the sides of my uncle’s boat.
He growls and spits like my father did.
She steps out holding my arm
waves and smiles to the family
at the water’s edge

makes her way
in a swirl of gulls and flaxen children
high heels in the mud
summer dress fluttering
in the stink of goat and pig and pit-latrine.
A blond horse looms out of a cloud
and the Norwegian flag flies
in her honour,
Olaf’s widow from Africa.

In a wooden house of embroidered cloths
and heavy tock of cuckoo clocks
she slowly chews the laid out feast
shut out of a language she cannot speak,
begging me to open a window please.
Her lip trembles at our gifts
sent from Africa –
wooden animals, buckskin shield
and my father’s bar of gold.


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