We Are Us Now

Anthony Anaxagorou is a British-born Cypriot poet, fiction writer, essayist, publisher and poetry educator. His second collection, After the Formalities, is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and was shortlisted for the 2019 T.S. Eliot Prize. The following poem is taken from the award-winning writer’s recently published collection, Heritage Aesthetics. Channelling his family’s migratory histories between Cyprus and the UK, Anaxagorou’s restlessly experimental work interrogates how nations, citizens and their bloodlines continue to be shaped by the twin forces of colonialism and patriarchy

Anthony Anaxagorou

          Sergeant Clerk is the Acorn’s clerk
          But is prone to get in rages.
          If the Wogs give any trouble
          He puts them into cages.
The Grenadier magazine, published in British Cyprus, 1958

Boy at the back, why have you come here
the wrong way round & why do you struggle
to tell the group how many of the tribe
you’ve brought along with you?

I love this country      (I do)
but its yesterday is father-terrifying

     we swapped a cage for a cage
     as you do

both grandparents splitting mops & bruised plums
               Christmas ’88

          that was my family living    with the family
          from next door                the kids by the barbed

wire fence playing with prayers they couldn’t use       dressing
me in a flag        that was unlike mine

          (God grew into a secret way of admitting trouble)

each Remembrance Sunday     I knelt
in a field behind the house where only twigs
          found it in them to bend       a shot rabbit running
          from what I couldn’t see
most of life happens behind us or has happened in a different colour

          the TV in our kitchen lost its mind
          at my mother’s immigrant face

               despite her best shepherd’s pie

          my father       his briefcase
          made of genuine leather said boy

          wherever you stand make sure
          you can be seen


don’t move
don’t say another fucking

Heritage Aesthetics by Anthony Anaxagorou is published by Granta, out now

This article is taken from Port issue 31. To continue reading, buy the issue or subscribe here