Inside Out – Sheila Jacob

Inside Out

So you’re not from this way?
a new neighbour asks
though I’ve lived in the town
for thirty-odd years,
tell her the bus times
and when the bins are emptied.

She’s spotted something
and I’m aware of it, suddenly,
like a petticoat hem
blushing below my skirt.
Soon she’ll know
all my underclothes

are labelled Made In Birmingham
though I won’t mention
the hiraeth I feel
when I recognise the accent.
I won’t mention last week
and the delivery man

who stopped to ask directions.
His depot was in Telford
but he came from Great Barr
where my Uncle Fred used to work.
Things weren’t the same, we agreed,
since they rebuilt the Bull Ring.

I deciphered his invoice:
the village typed first
above the misspelt road
and the road a cul de sac.
He still puzzled the names.
I explained that Maes

meant field, Hyfryd meant
nice or pleasant and Rhosrobin
was a red robin.
So you’ve learned the lingo?
he laughed and I laughed too,
said I supposed I had.

Sheila Jacob lives in North East Wales with her husband. She was born and raised in Birmingham and uses her childhood, adolescence and  Brummie ancestry as a source of inspiration. She has had a number of her poems published in U.K. magazines and webzines.

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