• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 01
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Fire Exit

I grew up here.
The old couple next door
had a grandson in Spain. Every summer
he'd visit and we'd play
video games on dusty consoles,
run laps around the garden,
read books a bit too old for us
in different languages.

I went to school here.
The French boy in my class
taught me a song:
"Alouette, gentille alouette,
Alouette, je te plumerai."
We chanted it in the playground,
a dozen Scots-lilted larks,
and we counted oon doo twa.

I studied here.
Eraserhead, RockSoc, what's it like
in Bratislava? Introducing friends
over a Bergman movie,
a Slovak and a Romanian
discussing Irvine Welsh novels.

They got married last month.
We all wore kilts. The Bride
saved someone's life the next day.


Fire Exit

I walked past the Polish market
on Gorgie Road, and the bus shelter said
EU Nationals:
Apply for Settlement.

"We need to take back our country"
reads a sticker
above the 10-year anniversary announcement
of a Balkans-themed club night.

If you flipped the flag of Bosnia
and Herzegovina it would look like
our hate crime statistics.

I grew up here,
on this tiny
little island

it's shrinking.