David Heidenstam

Rough Guides

Oxford: Day tripper

Dreaming by the river, you watch
A meadow on the other bank
Littered untidily with geese
Sitting half-hidden in the grass;
Until your human lawlessness
Explodes them into sudden fear,
And, rising into the grey sky,
They pattern some perfection there.


View of a cathedral city from its heath land

Beneath a sun a city lies.
Round it cars move. The band of colours
Curves and loops
Beneath the light. Towards a sky
A stone spire rises.
Over all histories hang
All faceless futures.



Land low-lying against the sea
Is mean enough when uninhabited
But people make it meaner still
Each grey home reeking compromise
As the slack beach reeks decay.
Sheer seas
May pound the heads
And man incur that majesty
But here, in sand and silt,
The mind stays small
Inexorably diminished by
This stagnant dwelling between opposites.

David Heidenstam grew up in Norfolk, UK, in the 1950s. He has a ‘sort of retrospective blog’ at davidheidenstam.com/footloose He recently published Tales for my dog: 80 microfictions from humour to horror, and In the Beginning…, a stage play set in the Garden of Eden