Sheds 6 x 8 x 6
Angry at the ***** time computers steal
like Railtrack. Angrier with myself for lack
of knowledge. Molested hard drives. Quirky files
cluttering the registry remind me of Le Carre.
I've no loyalty left to give to MS, Amdhal
or Dell. Encrypted online, I visit Siemens and
Linux like a traitor, hankering for Acorn and Sinclair,
when the smell of English plastic promised much, and delivered.
While technical supports gloat over phone bills I ring my wife
to explain the situation, the lack of emails, the shed
cut off from the outside world like America, a temporary
structure that seemed a good idea at the time but takes
so much technology and resuscitation to keep it going
I'm getting tired of it, feel like knocking it down.
Then I remember the shed in the film of the nuclear test
and worry about flimsiness, lack of protection, armaments.
I watch the shrubs move like dancing women outside
my shed in time to Bach. Through the glass I see
blue *****, a wren, the ducks who spend an hour
on my pond. Gulls laugh on the roof.
In February, beneath the floorboards, I find
a family of hedgehogs blind asleep. I can't resist
disturbing them and seeing if they settle once
again in a cloche of rhubarb, unwilling colonists.
A romantic visitor draws a map showing the way
to the best shed in the world. Here be treasure, he says
from his state of smash. A chest sits within it, containing
nothing. This empty hut could be a Castle Perilous
at the heart of a wild wood, pressed hard on all sides
by tourist attractions, camp sites, and pubs serving bbqs.
I'm planning my trip fearful of a thing part natural, part
manufactured, beyond the ken of naturalist or engineer.
On my way, I meet an English sports teacher,
a shed in the back of his car en route for Burgenstock.
Coals to Newcastle, I say, thinking of chalets
and the sad tune of my mother's Swiss musical box.
In spite of temperatures fifteen degrees below,
he boasts these British planks survive well enough
on mountains in continental Europe, home to
measuring equipment and downhill competition.
Flying home to Gatwick over county boundaries,
over perimeter fences on industrial estates,
seeing sheds, large and small, familiar and painful,
I make a scale model of a new kind of space.
At the threshold of my shed my cat greets me.
Animal bones are scattered round the room. I have
been away too long. It's time for a return.
I find a can of creosote and start to paint.