No matter where you are in the city —
church bells can be heard upon the hour,
belting out their songs, each trying
to out chime the others.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
the great privilege and heavy burden