Arrival at Cambridge

CAMBRIDGE: ARRIVAL

Mrs Moroz was the first
Cambridge character we encountered.
My mother, my father, my brother
and I must have stared,
disturbed yet fascinated by
the scrawny frame,
the frizzy hair,
the squinting gaze
behind thick lenses,
the twisted, tangled teeth,
the clotted, catarrhal vocal delivery,
the mangled, mutant version
of English-Polish emitted
from her epiglottis.

An unlikely figure to be
the guardian at the gate,
the fallible ferrywoman,
barring the way to the
unimaginable riches that
awaited me, once she
ushered me through the portals
into the enchanted city.

It’s that time of the year when GCSE results arrive, eagerly awaited by the many thousands of students hoping to enter university.  It’s reminded me of the three years I spent at Cambridge, and, when I started writing the above poem, I was surprised at how vividly I remember meeting my first landlady there.

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