'Immigrant' looks back from some years afterwards to the time when I first arrived in London from New Zealand feeling very foreign, in fact very colonial with my New Zealand accent which I hastened to get rid of, and my Marks & Spencers clothes - I was trying to pass as a genuine Londoner like so many others. I would walk around St James's Park sometimes at lunchtime and I would see the swans who were actual English birds on the lake, and the pelicans who were immigrants like me and I tended to identify with the pelicans.
November ’63: eight months in London.
I pause on the low bridge to watch the pelicans:
they float swanlike, arching their white necks
over only slightly ruffled bundles of wings,
burying awkward beaks in the lake’s water.
I clench cold fists in my Marks and Spencer’s jacket
and secretly test my accent once again:
St James’s Park; St James’s Park; St James’s Park.
from Poems 1960-2000 (Bloodaxe Books, 2000), copyright Fleur Adcock 2000, used by permission of the author