A Long Way From America

by themapofantarctica

I feel a long way from America

and America is what I was learning.

Through books and film and music and people

I straddled the Atlantic

imagining the galleries

and the libraries.

But the waves were strong,

and much like Salvador Alvarenga,

the man who got lost on a boat for 14 months,

I sometimes felt I had no nation.

The stars

I could be sure of.

But countries are like that.

Strong and invisible,

Rooted deep into our psyche.

I could never mistake

that it was the streets of England

that my visions of America were contained within,

that down the road and near the water

was the screen that has long projected Hollywood,

that in the houses, next to the worn furniture

are the books that transmitted New York

past the eyes, to the brain

where I again will build

a place that someday I won’t have to remember.

I will just be able to look and see.

Until then I will shave

and turn up for work

at the university that lights up lecture theatres at night

for talks on the slave trade.

Legacies are in place

but let them not get overblown,

our people will soon see eye to eye

and speak of common things.

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