Like Liverpool

It’s when you go to Liverpool
that poems never stop coming into your head
you try to say you don’t talk that way
and the words reply, “Yes you do
you’ve got the Liverpool blood in your veins.”
The Mersey when it surges forward
sweeping you away, carrying dreams to the sea
you’ve got the beat and it is in you
you can’t get away from it
then you remember your grandmother
how she came from Liverpool
all those years ago.
How you remember the Liver bird and the docks
the steamer that took you to the Isle of Man
you loved it, the waves crashing against the ship
going up and down and you sitting on the suitcase,
then the wobbly legs when you reached Douglas
the happiness as you clutched your mother’s hand
and you skipping along the prom in white sandals
sun bonnet and two front teeth missing.
Saying goodbye to the fairies on the fairy bridge
you thought you could see them in the hedgerow
waving to you before you went back
you wanted to sail on the big ship
listen to the shriek of the gulls
the wind blowing the ribbons in your hair
seeing land as if for the first time in your life
feeling the surge of the river dragging you somewhere
to a place embedded in your genes, a place

By Sally James