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The Graduates


  If I chose children they’d know
  stories of the old country, the place
  we never left. I swear


  I remember no ship
  slipping from the dock,
  no cluster of hurt, proud family


  waving till they were wee
  as china milkmaids
  on a mantlepiece,


  but we have surely gone,
  and must knock
  with brass kilted pipers


  the doors to the old land;
  we emigrants of no farewell
  who keep our bit language


  in jokes and quotes;
  our working knowledge
  of coal-pits, fevers, lost


  like the silver bangle I lost
  at the shows one Saturday
  tried to conceal, denied


  but they’re not daft.
  And my bright, monoglot bairns
  will discover, misplaced


  among the bookshelves,
  proof, rolled in a  red tube:
  my degrees, a furled sail, my visa


  Copyright © Kathleen Jamie

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