Disinherit Me, Please by Helen Nancy Meneilly

Disinherit Me, Please

Where are you from?

Cab drivers love to lug
the conversation on;
and the weather is done,
the traffic done,
so, we come to:

Where are you from?
I run my tongue
over the answer.

The estate burnt out dissent before I was even an egg.
Walls marked with men ten foot tall, all in black:
balaclavas, gloves and guns, slapped to the brick.
I learnt to talk in a flat full of my father’s slurs.
Learnt to walk at the window where we watched
the other flag catch fire every summer.
I never went back there again.

Where are you from?

Passive static sound
of tarmac escorts
my words as, disloyal
to my skin as a snake,
I lie. Holding my own
hand, thumb pressed
to the hollow of it, eyes
locked to the stone-grey
sky gravid with storm.

by Helen Nancy Meneilly

Editor’s Note: This poem’s refrain highlights the pain of the speaker, until the final lines finally reveal the answer suggested by the title—the place where someone is from is never as important as the place one wishes to be going.

3 thoughts on “Disinherit Me, Please by Helen Nancy Meneilly

  1. Awful, the burdens of tyranny, whether parental or national, and the permanence of such weight. Appropriate, painful, and illustrative of each day’s news these days.

    Like

  2. I’ll admit to having had to look up “disinherit;” doing so definitely changed my understanding of the poem, which I already really liked. The definition gave new meaning to a line that had grabbed my attention on first reading. It’s where the poem becomes outwardly introspective, “The estate burnt out dissent . . . .” A sad estate indeed, and hardly one to feel guilty over dissing in retrospect. All this shed new light on the snake image in the final stanza.

    Like

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