Long Read Opinion Poetry

I Come From

I come from a small city, full of life but not too full;

The school park and the duck pond and the ice-cream shop.

I come from old houses, draughty hallways and squeaky doors;

the scent of banana bread and fesenjān 

dancing in the kitchen to Paul Simon and Coldplay. 

I come from libraries;

The musty scent of old books and getting lost in fantasy worlds for hours.

I come from big families, spread all over the world;

From awkward (at first) family reunions and cousins gathered around the TV watching Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang;

From chilli and hot fireplaces and Grandpa’s chocolate truffles,

As many juice boxes as you could drink and a pantry full of surprises.

I come from various holidays;

Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July and Nowruz;

Holidays full of family and friends and laughter and too much food, 

Bright lights, candles and cake,  

Going to sleep feeling way too full but warm and happy.

I come from long haul flights to visit my American family,  

Road trips and the California sun;

The familiar smell of my grandparents’ house,

Rose lip gloss and salty sand;

Unfamiliar words, ‘sidewalk’ and ‘eggplant’,

Cheddar goldfish, sugary cereal and chocolate chip pancakes.

 

I come from friendships;

New friends, who I feel like I’ve known forever,

Video calls late into the night,

Sunset pictures and H&M changing rooms with bubble tea and Doritos,

Laughter until my stomach hurts and feeling understood for the first time ever.

 

I come from years of playing the violin;

Broken strings and rosined bows,

Calloused fingers, sheet music, and dreading sight-reading.

I come from ancient, cold cathedrals,

Daily choral services and music that I know off by heart;

Red cassocks, late night carols and excited midnight countdowns to Christmas 

 

I come from my favourite little things in life;

Pumpkin spice lattes, the smell of the ground after it rains,

Crunchy leaves on the pavement, blue M&Ms,

Kind smiles that feel like melted marshmallows,

Random words in different languages,

The feeling of cosiness sitting next to a warm fire 

And the atmosphere in an airport where nothing seems quite real.

 

I come from a white city,  

A city full of too few minorities and subtle racism,  

Being told I’m not dark enough to be myself, I’m too different to be Scottish and being asked if I’m wearing fake tan.

 

I’m told that I come from a country I’ve never been to;

A place described by my family as being full of rich traditions,

Beautiful carpets and delicious food and precious tea,

Melodic language that is too often dismissed as being guttural and barbaric,

A long history that is so much more than dictatorship and poverty.

Others tell me that I come from a country of war and terrorism 

Where I would be oppressed and silenced, forced to hide myself,

But how would they know?  (How can I know?) 

 

I come from big expectations;

Constantly being told that I’m smart but never feeling quite smart enough.

I come from insecurities;

Feeling like my worth is tied to my face and my body,

Never being able to completely relax;

That feeling that you’ve forgotten something, but can’t quite work out what.

I come from growing resentment at the world, 

A world that values some lives less than others, 

A world built on greed and hunger for power.

 

I come from strength,

From hope and joy and excitement,

Gratefulness for my privilege and eagerness to do something with it.

 

I don’t come from perfect,

But I do come from love.

 

 

By Florence Gill

About the author

Spyglass Admin

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