top of page

2 poems by Nell Prince

A note on the fens near Peterborough

Only the sky severs

these squared miles,

fields of bleak forevers

with bales like slick isles.

They’re too flat – spaces

we look at and lean into

while the train outpaces

shadow, kite, river blue.

I have an issue with fens:

the lack of hills is fine,

but where – amen –

are the woods? The pine-

clotted, thick fir woods?

‘flat’ is more flat

if these dull neighbourhoods

have only homes. No Gat-

sby living here, I know,

but if there was money

the fens might glow

might look more sunny

with trees to please the eye,

to join and link with sky.

But ever will I doubt

our ability to plant more roots

and really money’s not the clout

we need, just good boots

and a will to be more green.

Or am I wrong?

Do most prefer a scene

of stone without a song?

Who knows what time will make

of this years down the line

and how long it will take

for absences of pine

to curse all of our brains.

The Nightmare

The trees are tired-looking, tattered, dead.

A wind goes through them, chilling, numb.

The birds are weary, one pecks a hollow drum.

The maples here are acid-white with red.

I hold one of the leaves that has been shed

and think the cells are dying, overcome

with poison from this past millennium.

The years of waste and smoke-filled air have spread

to rivers and the ruined roots that drink;

they feed these orchards’ fruit grown bitter, sick.

And bees now make no honey, nothing sweet;

the apples, too, are oozing rotten ink,

a spider’s web looks crazy, incomplete,

and an owl’s screaming like a lunatic.


Nell Prince has been published in New Poetries VIII, PN Reivew, Wild Court, and many other journals. In 2016 she was runner-up in the Jane Martin prize. She lives in Lincolnshire.


bottom of page