To sleep, perchance
to dream? No chance:
it’s 4 a.m. and I’m wakeful
as an animal, caught between your presence and the lack.
This is the realm insomniac.
On the window seat, I light a cigarette
from a slim flame and monitor the street –
a stilled film, bathed in amber,
softened now in the wake of a downpour.
Beyond the daffodils
on Magdalen Green, there’s one slow vehicle
pushing its beam along Riverside Drive,
a sign of life;
and two months on
from ‘moving on’
your car, that you haven’t yet picked up,
waits, spattered in raindrops like bubble wrap.
Here, I could easily go
off on a riff
on how cars, like pets, look a little like their owners
but I won’t ‘go there’,
as they say in America, given it’s a clapped-out Nissan Micra . .
. And you don’t need to know that
I’ve been driving it illegally at night
in the lamp-lit silence of this city
– you’d only worry –
or, worse, that Morrissey
is jammed in the tape deck now and for eternity;
no. It’s fine, all gleaming hubcaps,
seats like an upright, silhouetted couple;
from the dashboard, the wink
of that small red light I think
is a built-in security system.
In a poem
it could represent a heartbeat or a pulse.
Or loneliness: its vigilance.
Or simply the lighthouse-regular spark
of someone, somewhere, smoking in the dark.
Bryce, Colette (2010-11-30). Self-Portrait in the Dark (Kindle Locations 87-88). Macmillan Publishers UK. Kindle Edition.