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This report is taken from PN Review 265, Volume 48 Number 5, May - June 2022.

From Angel Hill
Part 1: Translucent Launceston
Vahni Capildeo
Arriving at the top of Angel Hill at dusk in March, you are perched above a street as narrow and steep as one of those 1970s metal slides from which children pitched off, died, and thereafter haunted playgrounds canopied by history-heavy, unpruned trees. To the left you are faced with a stony bank softened by ferns and, even at nightfall, bright with chubby pennywort. To the right, grassier land shelves upwards. Daffodils wave higher than your head, and over the height of shrubby trees. There are also buildings. These seem to have grown according to need and habit. Partway down the hill are three late nineteenth-century cottages in a mini-terrace. They stand together, as planned.

You open the door to the one with a blue plaque on the outer wall, and step down two slabby stone stairs, pausing next to a stand with walking-sticks. If you can open the door, step down, and enter through the next set of doors, you are at a series of thresholds. A sitting-room with knickknacks and a comfortable armchair welcomes you, like someone friendly who was waiting, though not for you. This row of cottages is built into a hill that slopes sideways as well as down, precipitous like a 1950s beauty’s shoulder. If you go through to the back, you will continue down slate steps; down and down, past more daffodils, and tulips in raised boxes. But perhaps you are not let in.

As poet in residence, for a month I had the keys to Cyprus Well, the cottage where the poet Charles Causley and his mother Laura lived. Charles ...


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