If I had a shed, it would be a cold walk down
a frosty garden, filled with white, feathered grasses,
leaf mulch in flower beds, to the far corner
and a door with a lock and bolt, stiff to slide open
with my gloved fingers, the house behind
calling me back. Pushing on into the gloom, I would
turn on the gas on that camping stove I’ve had for years,
strike match after match, until the flame took,
blue with yellow at its heart, and put the water on.
Getting used to the smell of mildew and the lack of light,
I’d look around, find, leaning up against the wall,
that bookcase filled with books I’ll always keep,
take in the table, the skewiff chair, the open notebook
and the pen, quickly glance down, as if avoiding
some old friend I can’t bring myself to talk to on the street,
I’d place a teabag in the old, chipped mug, sink
into that button-backed armchair I had as a girl,
threadbare now, sagging where it should, keeping my coat
wrapped around me, tight against the cold, listening
to the slow rumble of water coming to the boil,
breathing out, watching my breath, blowing rings,
look towards the window, ice that patterns the cracked glass
creating a haze beyond which the garden hibernates,
a phone rings somewhere else, steam rises,
gas flames and the ice begins to melt, soften, disintegrate.
The page won’t go away. The pen rolls across the table.
If I had a shed, I’d stand, cross over, straighten up
that skewiff chair, take off my coat.
Emer Gillespie is co-founder of Ekphrasis with Abegail Morley and Catherine Smith and currently researching a PhD at Kent in Poetry and Translation working with Dante’s Commedia.
Her first collection, THE INSTINCT AGAINST DEATH, was published by Pindrop Press in October 2012.