Charlotte Ansell

My England met yours

yesterday at Baker Street
as the Pride marchers preened
like parrots in their rainbowed finery
a black man sashayed, radio on his head
hips a smooth swing of do I care what you say?

My England met yours last night
on my way to a party
the pavement piled with
boxes of Pakistani mangoes,
the Arabian coffee houses nestled
in a pick and mix of takeaways,
arriving to a house full of kids
who didn’t care about who’s from where,
as they minced round the lounge,
wine glasses aloft
feet adrift in their mother’s heels.

My England met yours last night with mixed results,
the Spanish neighbour and his boyfriend
who said the old lady next door spat over the fence
however many times they offered to mow her lawn
or took round home baked bread
they sit here now, laughing with the Derry girls
who also found they loved each other
more than men.

My England met yours in the Polish man in the kitchen
holding forth on how he is applying
the ideas of Eric Fromm
to architecture and the most important thing
he can teach his students is freedom.

My England met yours when I left at 3am
A weary middle aged white woman,
colliding with the Muslims heading for mosque
to pray before they fast.

And I think of this night in the backyard,
pipe and bodhran just warming up
and how we all just wanted to sing together for once,
couldn’t find an overlap
in our repertoire of songs
and none of us quite knew all the words,
but it didn’t matter.