In the USA and Canada until the late 19th century, ambitious, restless or lawless people often headed west towards the Frontier. In modern Britain, people who have lived in poor areas and made a bit of money move to prosperous areas of countryside and small towns – from Manchester and Liverpool into Cheshire, from Birmingham to Shropshire, from East London to the more prosperous parts of Essex. When I wrote this I had Manningtree in North-east Essex in mind – but it’s had two incidents of several cars being burnt. Nonetheless, it has antique shops and delicatessens!
THE PROMISED LAND
I will lead you from the desert of the estates
From the occasional burnt-out car
And from the regular huddles in dark corners
To a land of antique shops and delicatessens
Flowering with exhibitions by local artists
Flowing with organic milk and local vegan honey
There you will not fear what you left behind you
But only something older, starker, simpler.
THE KEY TO THE THREE: Mischievously, I told readers that my poem “Three” had a hidden meaning, though it was not the only possible or even the only intended meaning. I left it to see if anyone guessed it. No-one did, so here goes. When I wrote it I’d just read an article about how the three planets Venus, Earth and Mars may once have been quite similar, but developed in vastly different ways – Venus heating up through a runaway greenhouse effect till life would be impossible, Mars losing its atmosphere and becoming cold and dry, Earth preserving ideal conditions for life. This got me into poetic mode and the three sisters are the three planets – though I’m sure there were other, mainly mythical, senses on the edge of my consciousness.