Small Heath

by Nafeesa Hamid

her abu left her the sapphire sky of Kashmir,
a pay slip, a P45 from his railway retirement pack
a frame with a photograph,
an autograph of Isambard the Great:
it was a collector’s item kept as memorabilia of an old dream.
A staff pass for an unsmiling sun speckled face;
the navy cap and jacket from his uniform,
a whistle louder than a train,
the focus from his bouncing knee at the driving seat,
a watch from Latif’s, a schedule of his weekly shifts
from Great Western Railway.
A welcoming hand to bring passengers in,
a friendly arm to signal and guide, flicking from
an A-Z Midlands which he often opened
to the route from home:
Highgate’s central mosque minaret,
to Ladypool road
to Stratford road
to Golden Hillock,
to work at the station.

He left her
silver and a goat, a hut with three hens, a golden tissue box
from the 90’s with a crushed velvet heart, the chill
of winter boots from his first day, and a way back
into the warmth of family around the fireplace on his days off.

How precious these gifts
her parents gave. After all,
they arrived with a single suitcase
nothing more, and built bridges
for families like hers to explore;
what was mine is now yours
Small Heath, Sparkbrook.