Liminal Spaces

Weekly Scribblings #67: Liminal Space 

The prompt:  So for today's prompt, I'd like you to dive into the idea of liminal space. You don't need to use the words "liminal space" anywhere in your piece, but the idea of liminal space should be clearly conveyed.

I didn't know there was a word for those places/conditions that invoke the uncomfortable feeling that something's wrong, someone's disappeared, perhaps even yourself.  The in-between places, spaces, ages.  Feeling them is easier than defining the words, liminal space. Many definitions include the feeling one gets in empty elevators, schools when there are no children present, being alone in the parking lot...  I had to fly last year early in the pandemic.  I was the only person walking to the gate (the gate to my city airport is always the very last in the terminal), all the shops and many gates were closed. No one was waiting anywhere.  No one.  No employees in sight. Once at my gate I was alone for quite some time.  The feeling I had must be what liminal space is about. I began to doubt I was even supposed to be there at all.  I began to worry for my safety, alone in an "abandoned" airport.

So...  with the new knowledge that these places, these conditions, these feelings, had a name, I faced the willies the idea of them gave me and dove into it!  I'm not sure they all quite "clearly convey(ed)" the idea, but I will say, writing them did lead to the uncomfortable feelings!

These first two are connected.   I've asked myself the question posed in Lone Driver.

Last One Left

Leaving late, the last to go,

my car waits in the parking lot

alone, where I left it,

under a buzzing and flickering lamppost.

I have the eerie feeling

the others have transported

onto alien ships,

or raptured,

while I worked overtime.


Lone Driver

Driving south,

the only other vehicles go north.

I wonder,

are they leaving an apocalypse

I know nothing about?



When the corridors are empty

and my footsteps echo down the halls,

I hear the voices of the students,

laughing, late for class,

as the tardy bell rings. 

Perhaps one of them is me.



The Closed Door

If we open this door

we’ll know what’s

on the other side.

Of course, if we don’t,

we won’t.

Like that cat

in the box,

dead or alive.

We won’t know until

we look.



wait too long,

I guarantee you,

we’ll find

a dead cat.)


What is a Widow?

What am I?

Neither daughter

Nor wife


No longer a Miss

Nor a Mrs

Does that make me a nobody?

A woman invisible? 


 ©2021 Lisa Smith Nelson. All Rights Reserved




  1. The eeriness of the first three is well done. I appreciate the sardonic humor of the fourth. The fifth breaks my heart. Grief is so very good at instilling an untethered feeling so that even the things you were so sure of before seem unsteady.

    1. Thank you. Yes, "untethered" is a perfect word for it. Some things in life need tethering, that gounding, to make sense.

  2. These are have captured the essence of that liminal space....

    1. Thank you! I am glad to read you say that, I was unsure about the concept.

  3. That is the problem in becoming a widow or widower. Ones whole life since marriage is being in a partnership and now with your partner gone you cant even discuss what you would like to do tonight dine out for fun or stay at home and be content that you are happy being with the other.

    1. That is so true. Just the other day I thought how I wanted to tell my husband about something that happened, and yet, he had died 16 years ago! That hasn't happened in a long time, my mind to just forget like that.

  4. Wow Lisa! I identified with all of these poems. The atmosphere in ‘Last One Left’ is well-captured; years ago when I worked in a call centre, I regularly worked late and my car was always the last one in the car park, complete with ‘a buzzing and flickering lamppost’. Funnily enough, I’ve also driven very early in the morning and felt as if I was the last person on earth, and while I was still teaching, because I live locally, I was usually the last one to leave; school corridors are particularly haunting.

    1. It does feel like you're the last person! Sometimes when I drive alone up the interstate, north, I see no other cars for miles. The lack of truckers is the strangest, it's the route all the way up through CA, OR, and WA.

  5. What fascinating vignettes! I loved them all.

  6. Hi Lisa, this is great. We can identify with them, even the last from divorce. The dead car? Yes, God made pets so that we could take care of them for ALL of their lives, so, then they die.
    I had wondered if 'liminal' and 'subliminal' were related; ""Liminal" comes from the Latin noun "limen" meaning "threshold." It makes sense, then, that "liminal" applies to the idea of a sensory threshold. "Subliminal" is below that threshold at which an effect is produced."
    Freud was a student of 'subliminal'.

    1. I wondered if the words were related too, but I was too lazy to look it up! Thank you for the info!

  7. These are all wonderful and convey the feeling so well that I seem to share it as I read! (I do know personally the experience of widowhood.)

    In the first, I think there's a typo and you must mean 'have been transported'.

    1. Yeah, it's probably correct to be "have been..." Thanks!


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