I wrote this in the lead up to going to France ten years ago. It sounds quite pompous now and rather smug but it was how I felt at the time about being trapped on an island. I went to France again at Christmas; a snap decision because I just wanted to get away. This time though I was much happier to return to a place of light.
There is a restlessness in me, a pony tugging at the bridle, jerking her head up
There is a restlessness in me, as the autumn leaves stir in irritation, flitter around
Themselves, ornamental and useless.
My passport stares back at me, wanting to be stamped with foreignness,
The photo stares unblinking. “Well?” The expiry date panics me.
Routine rebukes, the TV programmes are disordered and dull,
Old habits pall, old delights dull.
There is a restlessness in me, a longing for sun on olives, pastis,
an unfamiliar tongue.
A hankering for difference, for unfamiliar tastes, for chocolat and frites,
For waiting for the Metro or the tube, a chance to collude about the weather
And the traffic on the autobahn.
There is a restlessness in me, the malls fill me with familiarity, of
“Gidday, how are ya?”, “What cha doing for Queen’s Birthday?”, and
Everyone gets a bargain and red dot specials and the Lotto numbers
Aren’t. I ache for difference, for flower markets, de and la and
Winter is closing me in, the art galleries are shut already, the rugby fields
Are fresh and I am stale as old bread.
Contempt is breeding, multiplying with discontent, packing boxes are
Alluring, change of address postcards beckon seductively, I long to cut
Off the phone and electricity.
Farewell me at the airport will you? Say goodbye and bustle home
for shepherd’s pie before it gets too dark
and I’ll be duty free.