I tread the streets of an ancient city
far from home where the blanket of
unemployment stifles many.
For more than a day I flew here
to work until I can claim
the retirement pension.
Walking the Stratford station platform
I think this was easy thirty odd years ago,
now not so much.
My grandmother made a reverse journey
from a little Cornish market town
down in the far southwest, travelling
with parents, sisters, brothers , sailing
halfway round the world from unemployment
to seek work for her parents.
They disembarked he day before
her third birthday,
a birthday gift of a new land.
Now with her birth certificate,
her son’s birth certificate, and mine,
I leave unemployment at home
for employment in her first home land
in a reversal of history.
She moved from her market town
to a colonial port,
her family living on unskilled labouring.
I went from a small city
to a vast metropolis
living on days of casual work.
Both of us uprooted
in new townscapes
living among strangers
to keep ourselves alive.