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This poem is taken from PN Review 178, Volume 34 Number 2, November - December 2007.

A Canterbury Tale Alan Jenkins

for Stephen Medcalf

Thirty years since I last did this, since I sat
In a hot window-seat on the slow train down,
Ashford-Hastings-Canterbury, stopping at
Each leaf-occluded halt, each dormitory town;
Now and then a glimpse of water, static
And shimmering, reminded me how far
It was from home, yet not holiday. A car
Was sent to meet me. From my musty attic,

The servants' quarters in a great house, high
Above the local artists' landscapes, farms
Were laid out in a vast unchanging calm,
A faded patchwork, a watercolour that had run
Hazed-over, distant sea into milky sky;
And tiny like a toy, a crumbling pillbox
Sprouting ferns, a home for fieldmouse, fox,
...


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