Twenty-Three Miles South of Cromer

By Jonathan Taylor Davies

I left a pen in Norwich.
You probably didn’t keep it
though it was a good pen.
I had it with me
on the grubby train that took me past
the flatlands
and the badlands
and the wetlands
and the umbrella trees
somewhere between home and Ely
lining the tracks
like romantic paintings
of gas lamps
by John Constable
or was he from Suffolk?

No matter the county
what counts is that he
painted East Anglia
that Eastern land,
West of East but stranger,
with its small towns
and old towns
and its cobbled streets
paved with turtle dove wings,
the only place that’s not Holland
where windmills believably exist,
something of the rolling Cotswold hills
pasted paper mache flat against Dutch plains
and low fens
where roaming men
on row boats
know that magic still exists.

and though it was not here I left my pen,
but Norwich where the books are stored
in ancient vaults of storied brick,
I like to think my pen is there,
in the old fen,
waiting to be found by men with magic hands
whose words will flow long after the water stops.

I will leave another pen
a good one
in the last forest,
so my words live
in the last places in England
where wonder is left.

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