Will Hatchett

Close to Bosworth Field, I finally arrive

At the village of Croxall, a lowering sky

Broods over the manorial estate –

Woodlands, a muddy farm track, a gate.

The neat woodstacks and twisted chimneys 

Show an enclosed order, alien to me.

Somehow, I am oppressed by the fields and trees.

I am a stranger here. I seek patrimony.

Maybe an ancestor trod this narrow track

A church warden, perhaps; now I'm back.


The church beckons me. Am I going home?

England is written in its soft grey stone

Faded and creased, like an old diagram.

Perhaps it will tell me who I am.

With its carved alabaster, it's a relic

Of pious times, a Gothic antique –

Breathing, from an exposed gaping crypt

The musty residue of the departed.

The church is halfway towards ruin.

Straining at broken panes, I peer in.


On the old graves, where the past is frozen

A carpet of snowdrops – a white explosion.

I seek meaning, trying to disinter the dead.

Nothing. Sometimes, the past cannot be read.

With a sense of regret, I close the book

Return from the crumbling church and the brook

To the car. Often, the past hides from us

In wild places, smothered by moss and rust

Wherever we go, however hard we try.

The ancient village is lost, so am I.