Poem: In a space

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.



Richard Bridgmont
What oft was Thought, but ne'er so well Exprest, I dream of Igloos. ps: Small boats and photographs.
No traps here. Or at least traps averted.

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Publication date

26 February 2015


RDN's poems