Thursday, November 17, 2011


Ten, she is, lowering herself gingerly onto the riverbank grass,

amidst goose shit and the patter of punters on the Cam.

“Milton, Newton and Winnie-the-Pooh”,

their names jangle over the water, agitated by the boatmen;

loose change for the fountain, keys over a drain,

they drop. “Shakespeare, too.”

A bend in the river, what does she think?

“I like it here,” she says. “It's peaceful.”

Ah, a romantic! As ferry punts and self-hires collide

unsilently before us she sees only the green rhythm flowing,

the wind-combed grass, the cool colonnades of the library.

My daughter imagines her own Cambridge.

“Robert Oppenheimer”, a boatload of Japanese tourists

try to place the name. No, they shrug. It's gone.

Back over the bridge, dodging cyclists and proctors, we go.

I take a picture: her back and the Great Court beyond

spread out like someone's future. “Milton, Byron, A.A. Milne...”

She abandons the future, distracted by a college cat.