One year in Norwich

I arrived here in ribbons.
I wanted to rest but not stay,
one year to recover,
then back to London; to
pretending in big buildings; to
worrying myself into the middle of things.
You could see through my skin
to the pumping ambition.

Then that year was up and
I found there were still pubs here
that I hadn’t been to yet and
It was nice not bashing my head
against strangers.
Give me one more year.

London friends didn’t get it.
Thought I’d retired early
or joined a cult.
They held an intervention
in a roaring Old Street bar where
there was nowhere to sit.

Media people in TV meetings felt sorry for me.
Norwich? Does anything happen there?
Can you use your oyster card in Norwich?
Norwich? Is that in Cornwall?
then the relief of the train
sighing out of Liverpool Street
grubby hunger turning to
wetland, meadows, air.

Once you get what you want
you move on to more wanting,
so why not choose this –
a few more years here.

This city has a
boundless smallness.
As I saw the same faces
I’d absorb interactions and
feel them increase me.

A decade’s gone and I
don’t have an exit strategy any more.

Settledness sneaks up on you,
it’s like an old friend
who’s been there for years,
just around the corner.
Who’s witnessed your sadness,
been your refuge forever
who you were falling
in love with

You just had no idea.


© Molly Naylor