Every summer, my grandparents visited 

the fishing village in Scotland where she grew up,  

where he was stationed in the army. 

They brought back a crateload, caseful 

of kippers, strapped them to the car roof and the box 

cast its stinking shadow down the road home. 

Back in Wales, my grandad’s brothers, sisters  

waited, feasted for a month on that smoked flesh, 

raising my grandmother’s birthplace to their lips 

and chewing it, and calling it delicious. 

My grandmother sat in silence all the way home, 

eleven months from when she’d see again 

her mother, sisters, the coastline that her childhood 

sounded like. As soon as they got home, my grandad quickly 

opened the crate, released the stench of kippers, 

as if in a rush to find what it really was 

he’d brought back across two borders, all those rivers.