Oxford

 

No matter where you are in the city —

you’ll find:

church bells can be heard upon the hour,

belting out their songs, each trying

to out chime the others.

 

You’ll find:

libraries of all shapes, sizes, and subjects

bustling with students on silent streets,

camouflaged amongst castle-like colleges

and spires that stretch above the rooftops.

 

You’ll find:

stone towers peering down, looming

above glass-fronted shops

and black iron fences buried beneath bicycles,

leaning layer upon layer;

forcing first arrivals, to leave last.

 

You’ll find:

the scent of coffee and fresh pastries

drifting out of the street corner bakeries and Prets,

summoning the rain-chilled students and tourists

to revive themselves on caffeine and sweets;

as they leave – satisfied – the aroma wafts out again,

enticing the next bunch passing by.

 

You’ll find:

scholars with loose black vests flapping at their waist

and polished shoes pattering against the cobblestone

as they hurry along to academic lectures.

They shake raindrops from tweed jackets and vanish

through gold-plated gates gaping open

and massive wooden doors built into lonely old walls

yellowed by time’s constant drizzle.

 

You’ll find:

cyclists who swerve in and out of double-decker buses,

avoiding pedestrians flowing like the Thames,

pooling in some places; the Sheldonian, the Ashmolean, and the Bodleian

steadily admit their eager guests as they attempt to separate

student from tourist.

The line in Blackwells winds up the stairs into the Costa Café on the second floor.

Customers shuffle along, struggling under the weight

of their thick, freshly printed books.

 

You’ll find:

the great privilege and heavy burden

of knowledge.

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