Imagine living in a strange, dark city for twenty years. There are some dismal dwellings on the east side and one of them is yours. On the landing, you hear your foreign accent echo down the stairs. You think in a language of your own and talk in theirs.
Then you are writing home. The voice in your head recites the letter in a local dialect; behind that is the sound of your mother singing to you, all that time ago, and now you do not know why your eyes are watering and what’s the word for this.
You use the public transport. Work. Sleep. Imagine one night you saw a name for yourself sprayed in red against a brick wall. A hate name. Red like blood. It is snowing on the streets, under the neon lights, as if this place were coming to bits before your eyes.
And in the delicatessen, from time to time, the coins in your palm will not translate. Inarticulate, because this is not home, you point at fruit. Imagine that one of you says Me not know what these people mean. It like they only go to bed and dream. Imagine that.
– Carol Ann Duffy
Carol Ann Duffy