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Comings and Goings


Comings and Goings


I’ve been thinking about these a bit recently, especially the latter – maybe because my newly published pamphlet* has been much in my mind, with my efforts to publicise it.


Actually, I’ve met with some wonderfully supportive reactions, so ‘efforts’ gives the wrong impression.  But certainly a lot of time has been happily taken up by making lists, arranging a launch** and readings, contacting old friends and telling everyone I can think of, about it.


So getting down to writing new stuff becomes that little bit harder.  Or there’s more of an excuse…

Well, to come to the point, as the poems are about suicide, they focus on Goings. 

I wrote this poem some time ago.
Bradwell, looking east out over the North Sea, is a place of arrivals and departures, to be sure. 
For over two thousand years it’s been exposed to invaders and defenders. All sorts of people, ranging from the predatory to the missionary, have come and gone; some have changed roles here, fresh waves have washed in. Some leavers have returned, others not.

None of which should surprise, as this is border country: land meets sea, and people meet – in all sorts of ways – other people. Here is exchange – gain and loss; conquest and defeat; conversion and resistance…

Meanwhile, St. Peter's church, said to be one of the oldest buildings in England, incorporating masonry from the abandoned Roman fort it rests upon, remains.  It was built in 653 by St. Cedd, who travelled south from Lindisfarne to spread Christianity, and later left.  Over the centuries, it's changed its role: church, barn, back to church again; its constituent stones and bricks by turns military, ecclesiastical, agricultural, then ecclesiastical again...
so many conversions, like all those comings and goings. 

A final note on departures.  Between 1942 and 1945, 121 members of allied air forces flying from here failed to return.


Birds of passage at Bradwell

Across the dyke there flies a flock
of wide-winged painted lapwings
over old Roman Othona.

One turns back where many have come
and gone. I lose her somewhere
behind the high box of the church of Saint Peter
whose bricks made a fort to deter the invader
before everything settled at last. 

Saxons and Vikings all crossed these marshes
along with many another. A long time ago
Cedd came by himself, then went
alone, like a lapwing, leaving his church.

Later on, other flocks, wide-winged and painted,
left here to deter the invader,
some not to return.

Now grass grows in the runway,
the old church still stands
and a lone lapwing comes back to land.


*http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/richard-westcott/4594230918

**Is a launch both a coming and a going, all at once?
Whatever, mine’s on 9th May 7.30 in South Molton library – all welcome!
https://www.devonlibraries.org.uk/web/arena/southmoltonlibrary




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