Letter to Slough

I wrote this trio of poems as part of my application to university to study Literature with Creative Writing, over a year ago. One university requested a poem on the theme of ‘Where I come from’ and this was my response.

These poems are very near to my heart as the first poems that I ever showed to anyone else, and the first poems I was truly proud of. Although I’d been scribbling away in my room for years, I had to show someone these poems. They describe my complicated relationship with the town I was born in and grew up in, Slough, and how I percieved it as a child. In ‘To’, I remember returning to Slough; ‘There’ attempts to evoke the feeling of being in Slough, at that time, and ‘From’ discusses moving away from Slough as a pre-teen. I’ve moved house a few times, but childhood memories remain constant even when your sense of belonging is confused. Would I ever go back to Slough? No. But it still means home, means ballet lessons and walking to school, birthdays in Legoland Windsor and playing outside in the overgrown trees in our neighbours garden, buying the Beano (and maybe a Fredo) from the OneStop at the end of the street.





we cross waters to take

the motorway north.

Daytime and school

are far away, across

miles of cats-eyes, motorway lights:

the orange, the grey shadows

spider-climbing the seats.

I spy, (are we nearly there yet?)

the inevitable tape

narrating the 2D landscapes

passing. The moon clouds over

but inside  the car bright

with words, grey and orange

changes my face   cars

pass   my   eyes  stripes I muststayawake,

the journey mustn’t end,   I

must   not              fall

                           to sleep.





It was British and ugly.

The town-centre was a no-place

of sixties brutalism, crumbling

Victorian schools, concrete cancer. Mapped,

it could have been a

hive suspended, from

the telegraph poles and train lines travelling

away to Reading,

Windsor, the country.

The commuter-line to London moored it

fast to the ­­­­­ebbing

Buckinghamshire hills. People drifted there,

stayed, mostly forgotten

except to Inland Revenue. We laughed

that the poet we would have called Bet-Ya-

Mam hated us, the kids with scabby knees

from the barbed wire left

in the bushes. Slough. It was a home

for unwanted things, the steaming Mars

factory, the sky-line of cooling towers,

people classed: car-salesman, refugee,


Trouble. At nine there wasn’t

a domino-chain of connotations:

home was home, and the red on the pavement

just a ribena no-one had dropped. This

is not where I grew up.




From Slough, then, with the swift gasp

like breaking an icy pools’ skin,

plunging. I learn new routines:

how to run for a bus across a city,

how to walk in a straight line down the playground,

hips waggling, until my new friends are satisfied

I walk their way.

I learn to speak french,

how to discuss love in giggling girl-circles,

how to collect stars for the sloping wall

above my head and dream myself

embraced by their fluorescent light,

their steadfast glowing hope

whispering to the child in the dark.

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