Categorically, a cavity is a cave the moment it might admit a human body and when I learned that this was the measure of it, I knew I knew poems by the relief my full body makes for itself in finding the poem.

If all you can do is press a knuckle to the depression in the ground or watch as the water — like a gif of water tripping into loops of distance — trips, you’re looking into a hole or a hollow or a swallet or a pocket (or prose, even). You need to be able to pull the full wet ten degrees around you like a sleeping bag, at least and right up to your neck, for a cave to be a cave. Once you’re snug, you can begin the ecstatic business, echoing your hello-lo-lo-belownesses all night long if you must.

But if, say, the cave admits nothing to no body, not even you, and lies on its belly, extremely soiled in discretion and doesn’t know your name, even to throw it back at you, it is not a cave at all which is to say it is not yet a cave but a kind of double negativity. Your quartzy hiccup, swallowed immediately. My countdown from 0. A sewn-shut pocket implied by a fault, not at all yours.

Pockets are ordinarily, however we feel about this, for owners only. You can’t just stuff your hand in in the furred privacy of the cubicle. Get your trousers home first and carefully unpick the thread stitched across the (now your) openings and you’ll be free to shyly bury your most distal tendernesses in public or turn them inside-out at the checkout, curtsying the fabric apart to prove you and your hot pound twenty are of no threat to anybody but yourself, when you are buying other pockets to hide your hands in.

I see you at the counter most days, trying to pour yourself a Klein bottle.

A pocket jangling like a deep field is the tuneful permission for even people who wear dresses to carry up to four kinds of belonging — keys, cash, phone, your hand (finally caving in) — which is just a depression or a hole or a hollow, remember, unless I can fit my whole body inside this pocket which I am also wearing as I fall through the dress into the pocket, through the pocket into the dress so that I am head to toe very solemnly by the air of this sudden movement with you addressed fully as if for the first time. (Geologists might talk of a closed loop like this as a vug which comes from the Cornish vooga for cave but denotes the bubble blown, calcite bright, holding earth apart just enough just before my body finds it and addresses it as vug (or with-a-g – so, v · u · g · g – vugg more damply (or with-a-h – so, v · u · g · h – so that it transcribes the bright uvular hhhhhaa of air so oldly sealed it is a new air cracking out as you open the open you shouldn’t know about yet and yet and which, as soon as you need a word for it, has been cancelled. (



Holly Corfield Carr lives in Bristol and works in Cambridge where she is currently completing her PhD in site-specific writing practices in caves and quarries. Residencies include Spike Island, the Wordsworth Trust, University of Bristol and the Curfew Tower and her poems have been published in Poetry (Chicago) and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4. She received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2012 and the Frieze Writer’s Prize in 2015.



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