You Do Not Speak For Me, by Harry Gallagher

You do not speak for me.
The sparrow has my voice,
busying between hedgerows,
English as a cloudy day,
more English than you anyway.

That oldman and his dog,
out at dawn beachcombing,
letting the morning tickle
his mouth up at the edges,
his gait carries my weight
as he lightens the day.

The wildflowers on verges,
reaching for something
they can never quite touch,
but stretching all the same,
smudging their glories
all over the mundane.

These Saturday kids,
smiling through braces,
serving ice creams on days
when ‘hot’ doesn’t cut it,
learning that patience is
waiting for sainted grandmas
to choose between
sprinkles or flake.

The policeman, the plumber,
the teacher, roadsweeper,
prampushing mums,
gleaming proud dads,
the Sunday funrunners
replenishing the sweat
with a pint of English best
after winning their bet.

The lifesaver doctor,
last hour of her shift
who hasn’t slept since
God only knows when;
as kindas kiss it betters
to the latest in a line
of confused oldladies
who all ask the same thing;
‘But where were you born dear?’
and ‘Ooh what a lovely smile,
what lovely skin’,
as she holds their hands,
asks them where it hurts.

This is my England.
Its voice is not scabrous,
its sound is soft.
Its fingers reach down
to pick up the fallen,
brushing them down,
to hold them aloft.

Your tone is shrill,
a study in antipathy.
You are not my England
and you do not speak for me.

3 thoughts on “You Do Not Speak For Me, by Harry Gallagher

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