Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 397

Hamilton Roots

Driving along Mill Road, Neil Diamond singing
“LA’s fine but it ain’t home”
I think of home,
and Hamilton is home. 

In my privileged youth I wandered
in the Andes to Machu Picchu 

Watched the marvels of Milford Sound,
Franz Josef glacier,

In later years I walked on the snow
through Prague’s peerless centre,
was washed by mass sprays
from Iceland’s huge waterfalls

But you can keep all these
for I know home and my heart 

Union Street where I grew up
Where my parents lived till they died
Three weeks apart.
The huge chestnut tree
that afforded us a kids' outdoor home 

The back grass where I played so many games
Of football, rounders, athletics.
Ghosts of old friends are there still 

St. Mary’s school and church
People I still meet on the street
from those early days 

There are roots under the pavements
Brandon Street
Auchingramont Road
Almada Street.
My roots are there too,
old friends’ roots
my brothers’ and sisters’ roots
my mum and dad’s 

Ed is in Vancouver
Johnny in Portugal
Andrew, Den Haag
but I think of them
in Hamilton,
brothers here.

The Palace Grounds
where fairgrounds meant candy floss
and endless games of football
and putting 

deep as existence
keep you stable
in turbulent times 

I spent four years alone
working around the world
getting to know life
but life is an inner universe
a sanctuary, a place of nurture
and inner needs roots

My poetry does not need Paris
beautiful though she is
my poetry is Hamilton poetry
you may laugh
at Lanarkshire as home
for arts and spiritual strength
but if you laugh
It’s because
you understand neither.

Art is.
Spirit is.
Roots are. 

Global wonders
are formed by local love
spread outwards in tiny ripples 

I soak in Hamilton’s love
absorb it fully
appreciate its strength
 and give it out
to the world
if it wants to accept this gift
of Hamilton roots
to a shared world. 

Martin Stepek

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