This poem was written in 2003 in the aftermath of the war in Iraq and my parents decided to go home, so my mother was packing her stuff to go. And I only realised what a mess my mother's kitchen was when I met my mother-in-law, a very elegant lady from South Devon who has inherited glassware from her parents. And then I realised actually that my mother's kitchen is very much an immigrant's kitchen.

My mother’s kitchen

I will inherit my mother’s kitchen,
her glasses, some tall and lean others short and fat
her plates, and ugly collection from various sets,
cups bought in a rush on different occasions
rusty pots she doesn’t throw away.
“Don’t buy anything just yet”, she says
“soon all of this will be yours.”

My mother is planning another escape
for the first time home is her destination,
the rebuilt house which she will refurnish.
At 69 she is excited at starting from scratch.
It is her ninth time.

She never talks about her lost furniture
when she kept leaving her homes behind.
She never feels regret for things,
only her vine in the front garden
which spreads over the trellis on the porch.
She used to sing for the grapes to ripen,
sew cotton bags to protect them from the bees.
I will never inherit my mother’s trees.

from Life for Us (Bloodaxe, 2004), © Choman Hardi 2004, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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