I have acquired all the furniture I need
and left it behind, done all my repairs
and bought enough clothes.
The less you possess, the more they are
not decorations but what is more needed: icons
requiring as icons do small space to give up their worth –
this water jug, this stove, this lamp, this spade,
this small table and chair.
All of it “junk” in any place but here
in this hut
so tender in my feelings that when I turn the corner
I fear it might have proved a chimera,
a space among nettles, the victim of vandals.
For the dream is frail, yet firm the stone
of what is called “The Bull-Box” and that has held
one beast or another for a hundred years
so traditional is it, stone roof, stone walls,
no guttering, no drain-pipe, nettles rising to
a half-door and square window
that look onto a half moon meadow
seeded with wild wheat to a curve of stream.
In the sun
I watched a trout leap, a silver sword
small, quick, cutting air
as I built steps out of brook-stones
dug a pool for my washing-water
and saw a red-backed shrike on the thorns
that are overgrown behind The Bull-Box.
I was immortal then, not seventy but
a lithe, inquisitive
by Glyn Hughes
The first Poetry Centre podcast has been launched! Each monthly podcast features the work of local poets or general discussion about poetry. You can hear the podcast on our new website at this link, and subscribe to it in iTunes by clicking on the link on the right-hand side of the Podcasts page. This month’s podcast features Claire Cox and her poem ‘Tolstoy at Astapovo Station’, which was awarded first prize in the 2011 Barnet Arts Council Open Poetry Competition. We hope you enjoy it and we welcome your comments. Get in touch with us by replying to this e-mail, via Facebook, or through the ‘Contact us’ section of the Poetry Centre site.
‘Bull-Box’ is copyright © Glyn Hughes, 2011. It is reprinted by permission of Arc Publications from A Year in the Bull-Box by Glyn Hughes (Arc Publications, 2011).
Glyn Hughes is best known as a Northern poet and novelist with a string of prizes for his work, including the Guardian Fiction Prize, the David Higham Prize, a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, and a Welsh Arts Council Poet’s Prize. He was also shortlisted for the Whitbread, Portico and James Tait Black Prizes. He was resident in the Calder Valley, Yorkshire, for forty years, and most of his work is based on the county. Glyn Hughes was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer in 2009. He had recently been granted use of an isolated stone hut – the ‘Bull-Box’ – in the Ribble Valley and the time spent there and in its environs was a major part of his healing. The poem sequence, A Year in the Bull-Box, describes the experience. Glyn Hughes died in May, 2011. You can read more poems from A Year in the Bull-Box here, some notes about him by Tony Ward at this link, and an obituary by David Pownall on the Guardian website.
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