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Corpuscle awarded Fenland Poet Laureate honour

Corpus student Qu Gao (m2021) has been named Fenland’s Poet Laureate 2022.

Here the Physical Natural Sciences student shares her award-winning poem and the inspiration behind her work.

“I have lived in Cambridgeshire since I was two years old: first in St Ives, and now in Chatteris. I used to take the train to go to school; the 30-minute train journey between March and Cambridge became a precious time in my day to read and daydream. 0732, March to Cambridge is, in some ways, a product of many years of long train commutes, and a homage to some of the extraordinary landscapes I used to see through the train windows."

0732, March to Cambridge

I try to fix it, hold it, hang it
in my fogged-up windowpane,

yet curiouser and curiouser, it
escapes: sliding past, hurtling

behind, receding to whispers
in the mistier, murkier fields

of my fading memories.
Fixing, holding, hanging me;

laughing at my inane desperation,
my Sisyphean futility. I trust

those pop-up trees, those cut-out
fields will probably remain, but really,

who the hell am I kidding? No atom encased
in a looking-glass so false and slippery

could ever stay quite the same. Anyway,
the train pauses: a chance to gaze

at the swirling phantom of a mist,
afloat, a cold winter’s breath caught

mid-air. For just a moment,
all the world rests perfectly still …

until I see the trees shivering
in the wintry chill. Softly

it dawns. Brilliant gold streaks
spill upon a foggy haze of grey, and,

blinking in the light of the molten copper spray,
unsure, uncertain, I watch the train

begin its infinite journey again. Together
with the arrow of time it goes, and I’m haunted

by the thought that the world stopping and starting
and reversing might be possible on board a train

of (un)certain terminality and (un)sure
destination. Please sir,

would my glitching frame of reference
be enough to buy me a return ticket for today?

Unless —
All change

it was I who was moving forward
and the world had never moved away.

© Qu Gao 2022. All rights reserved.