Old Words

Lucy Beall-Lott sheds light on her first year of university and how it feels to be displaced from “home” in this poem.


I don’t have that piercing anymore, 

But its okay because I’m different, 

“Better”,

My family is proud of me and I can speak in a language with clipped consonants and elongated vowels, 

Where I live is older than the entire democracy I come from 

And I am studying words that are older than the ruins I walk past everyday with writing on them, 

And isn’t it funny how that works?

Children are playing in the ruins,

On the tombstones in the mud, 

It is too cold for them to have their jackets unzipped but they do, 

And you girls do, except one, 

And I do too.

Like that night on the pier when it was cold and there were lights in the distance,

Who were those two figures?

They climbed up the rocks and down the ladder, 

And he helped her.

Jackets unzipped like the children on the tombstones, 

And they talked about things that seemed far away,

Like being warm, and insects,

And the smell of wet bricks in east Texas, 

And what the horse’s name was. 

That was early, I wasn’t yet nineteen, I wasn’t home yet.

Home was still halfway across an ocean, 

Home had a mixture of accents and hands and sounds that I will always carry with me but never return to. 

I walk by the ruins with my jacket unzipped,

And I’m happy because I know what was written on the rocks.