I LEARNED IN BUTTER
Into the Weeds
In our small universe we imagine patterns
in the howl of the wolf and the pulse of the rivers.
I feel a burden standing in street clothes
in the faint grey light from the chapel.
He found me soft-spoken and sober-faced
all trembling hands and stammering speech.
A little sorry smile arrived across his face
after a second in the nearly impossible sun.
I shared a fight or flight moment
with a religious young man coming from a funeral.
Notes on this poem
Last year, after relocating to Northern Ireland from England and whilst working towards my MA in Poetry: Creativity and Criticism at Queen’s University Belfast, I began working at Kinghan Church for the Deaf. Not only was there a generational gap between myself and the congregation but also regional differences in our sign vocabulary. I first began learning BSL in Bedfordshire at an after-school night-class with paramedics, teachers, and grandparents. I’m still learning BSL, now at Kinghan Church, so whilst I still speak with an English accent, my sign dialect is an amalgamation of regional differences. ‘FIRST MISTAKE’ is a poem created from becoming flustered at these differences and was just one of many mistakes we laughed about. In my defence, the signs for ENGLAND and BUTTER aren’t too dissimilar, and it represents how quickly language can shift meaning. ‘Into the Weeds’ is a celebration of the sense of wonder in the lyricism of language. The poem, and its original signs, are both intimate and expressive of the wider world around. Two other poems from this project have been selected for publication. ‘What the Congregation of Kinghan Church for the Deaf Told Me’ can be found in Issue 6 of The Tangerine, and ‘rapture!’ is forthcoming with Fallow Media.