“Locals” by James Lasdun
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
They peopled landscapes casually like trees, being there richly, never having gone there, and whether clanning in cities or village-thin stands were reticent as trees with those not born there, and their fate, like trees, was seldom in their hands. Others to them were always one of two evils: the colonist or refugee. They stared back, half-disdaining us, half-fearing; inferring from our looks their destiny as preservation or as clearing. I envied them. To be local was to know which team to support: the local team; where to drop in for a pint with mates: the local; best of all to feel by birthright welcome anywhere; be everywhere a local ... Bedouin-Brython-Algonquins; always there before you; the original prior claim that made your being anywhere intrusive. There, doubtless, in Eden before Adam wiped them out and settled in with Eve. Whether at home or away, whether kids playing or saying what they wanted, or adults chatting, waiting for a bus, or, in their well-tended graves, the contented dead, there were always locals, and they were never us.
from Landscape with Chainsaw, 2001
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, NY
Copyright 2001 by James Lasdun.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. from Landscape with Chainsaw. Copyright 2001 by James Lasdun. For further permissions information, contact W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110.
About the Poet
James Lasdun (1958- ) was born in London and now lives in the US. Lasdun is the author of five poetry collections, including Bluestone: New and Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015).
Learn more about James Lasdun.