How strange the way old lovers move into the present, tense, and catch you off guard; you tell me when you were here last you’d taken the steam train to a place whose name you’ve forgotten, and found a tapas bar. Going to that island is like going back to the past. Once we would have drunk a glass of red together in the Garrison, or waved in unison at the mother and child in that back garden waving at this steam train. I see what you mean, I think to myself, I see what you mean, waving on my own to the time before I was born. These days we travel to the same places alone: first you, then me, to this small, half-way island. I pick up your scent round the narrow cobbled streets, the medieval castle grounds, through the Market Square: I stare at the dreamy boats coming into the harbour, then conjure you, my ex-lover, in the Old House of Keys: walking along the long and dimly-lit corridor, across the stone floor – candle in hand – to friendship carrying the low flame of the past, still flickering, just the same, into the present, to the place that has no satisfactory name.
- Jackie Kay (from Fiere, 2011)
“I was in the Isle of Man doing some readings and was struck by the place. It felt like it was in a different time zone: the past. Nostalgia in the air. And that somehow childhood seemed preserved there, small kids waving at trains. I was talking to Carol Ann [Duffy] who had been there the year before, and so the poem is really a poem about becoming friends with someone you have been lovers with.”