Poem: In a space

Posted by RDN under RDN's poems on 26 February 2015

I am not clubbable, though I used to be rather more sociable. I have never been a loner. I dislike any sort of trap, seeking aisle seats and the back row. But I have always fantasised about the satisfactions of small spaces. The problem is: how to avoid self-pity or self-aggrandisement when one is fantasising about voluntary – chosen – isolation or confinement?


In a space
December, 2013
(Last revised 25 February, 2015)

A road-mender’s waggon
does it for me;
grimy, confined.

My fancy sometimes turns
to a nightwatchman’s hut
beside a gate;
or to a shepherd’s van
over-looking an in-bye hill;
or a showman’s mirrored showplace,
marooned in a yard,
guarded by puddles;
or a tinker’s bower
stitched with bailer twine;
or even a poet’s garden shed;
a tug’s fo'castle;
or a yacht’s cramped saloon –
lit by a hissing lamp.

Anyway, I frame my favoured spot
as a navvy’s shelter.
I want it for its veneer
of tarmac and oil,
stuck by some road,
and rocked by traffic,
on its unyielding iron wheels,
offering stubborn comfort.

I often see a Sussex Carthusian
in a celibate one up, one down
a one man but 'n' ben,
for living in a formula
of sleeping cot and food hatch
and tool cupboard;
and coming home before dawn
from insomniac Mass
in a French grey chill
translated to downland.

Home the monk comes –
to an un-snug stove –
and beyond a skinny pane
(it rattles and needs putty,
not puny, loose pins)
there's a garden,
a little neglected
where neither use nor ornament
are much considered.

That would do,
if I were suddenly a loner,
and alone, and meditative,
and brave.

Or maybe I'd like a courtesan’s satined boudoir,
glowing with oportunity;
or a fur trader’s barked cabin
bowered by frosted pines echoing the stars.

They'd all do:
but my fancy returns to the road-man's van,
acrid in fumes –
sharp and sweet in the nose –
from dark red coke
danced about by gas-blue flames.

In a perched billy can
the tea floats
like leaves on an auburn pond
until the boiling sinks them,
and the condensed milk's ready.

I am not a man of sorrows,
neither despised nor rejected;
I do not deserve
escape or sanctuary;
nor require redemption.
I am not hungry for penitential refinement.
So these are launchpads,
space capsules for an adventurer,
and anyway, only in my head.



  • Written by Richard Bridgmont on 02/05/15 at 5:08 pm:

    What oft was Thought, but ne'er so well Exprest,

    I dream of Igloos.

    ps: Small boats and photographs.

  • Written by Polly on 30/07/15 at 12:17 pm:

    No traps here. Or at least traps averted.


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