Birmingham Roller

We spent our lives down in the blackness… those birds brought us up to the light.”
(Jim Showell – Tumbling Pigeons and the Black Country)

Wench, yowm the colour of ower town:
concrete, steel, oily rainbow of the cut.
Ower streets am in yer wings,
ower factory chimdeys plumes on yer chest,
yer heart’s the china ower owd girls dust
in their tranklement cabinets.
Bred to dazzlin in backyards by men
whose onds grew soft as feathers
just to touch you, cradle you from egg
through each jeth-defying tumble.
Little acrobat of the terraces,
we’m winged when we gaze at you
jimmucking the breeze, somersaulting through
the white breathed prayer of January
and rolling back up like a babby’s yo-yo
caught by the open donny of the clouds.

Black Country/ Standard

wench/ affectionate name for a female
yowm/ you are
cut/ canal
tranklement/ bits & bobs or ornaments
onds/ hands
jimmucking/ shaking
babby/ little child
donny/ hand

from Black Country (Chatto & Windus, 2014), first published in The Patron Saint of Schoolgirls (Tall Lighthouse, 2010), Liz Berry 2010, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Liz Berry in the Poetry Store

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