We close our International Women’s March Fortnight with two poems by Kathryn Metcalfe. In today’s piece, ‘Three Letters and an Ocean’, Kathryn Meltcalfe shares a story from her family’s past with us… A truly transatlantic poem, ‘Three Letters and an Ocean’ portrays a woman’s journey between Scotland and America.

Three letters and an ocean

between who they once were,

who they would become.

20th & 21st March Kathryn Metcalfe by Kath Warren, courtesy of the Scottish Writers' Centre
Kathryn Meltcalfe, by Kath Warren, courtesy of the Scottish Writers’ Centre

 

‘Three Letters and an Ocean’ by Kathryn Metcalfe

 

On deck, standing by Papa’s shoulder

watching him ink answers

into crossword puzzles,

the tip of his tongue

clamped between teeth

and the corner of his lips,

making sense of how he could

change warm to cool in three

letters.

 

Somewhere between Greenock

and New York,

the word emigrant changed

them to immigrant.

Three letters and an ocean

between who they once were,

 

who they would become.

 


Kathryn Metcalfe has been published in anthologies and magazines, she is one of the ‘Mill Girl Poets’ whose show ‘Mill Girls’ On Tour’ about the lives and history of the female workers in the Paisley Thread Mills told through poetry, spoken word and song has featured in the West End Festival and lately at the Edinburgh Fringe. She set up, runs and hosts a monthly Open Mic for poets and spoken word artists and musicians in a Paisley coffee shop.

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