Here I am slotted into the secret space behind the houses,
walking in the fine silt of a reclaimed sea bed, and
the farty smell of cabbages scents the air. Men are waiting
for the carousel, where the vegetables are cut and
carried to the trailer in bright red cups.
As they move for the dog and me to pass one smiles,
and pretends to hide the long knife that he carries in
and I smile back. To be honest, they are usually just
from the car. Harvesting the sprouts, in fog and ice,
sitting side by side behind the tractors, dropping
brassica seedlings into place, sometimes bunching armfuls
of daffodils. Working hard. In the town, they are invisible
until they speak. Maybe they crowd us a little side by side
on the Town Bridge – body language conventions differ I
There are rumours that schools and GPs are feeling the
Shopfronts have altered. An illegal still blows up in an
In the paper some of the petty criminals have foreign names.
A friend says I’m not racist, but… at a dinner party. But,
In a generation, the children will have vanished, them
their accents gone, only surnames remaining.
Back and back – Dutch drainage engineers, rubble
of Norman Castles, Roman salt pans, humping up out of
the ripening wheat. And more recently, and less
the sombre, indigestible, 1930s and the 40s, when people
fled here, refugees from the claws of history.
The unchanging here is full of hidden change,
and the past, existing as it does in days and years,
swallows our differences in the end.