Pam Thompson is a poet and educator based in Leicester, UK. Her publications include The Japan Quiz ( Redbeck Press, 2009) and Show Date and Time, (Smith | Doorstop, 2006). Pam’s second collection, Strange Fashion, was published by Pindrop Press in 2017. She is a 2019 Hawthornden Fellow. Webfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Memory Theatre
(after Self-Portrait by Carmen Calvo)
I am the doll in the stiff lace ballgown
holding props: a tiny axe, fishing flies.
The horseshoe, I nail upside down in the Green Room.
After you left, these are the things I gathered
from our old white bedspread
and took them to the memory theatre—
tossed the red paper roses onto the proscenium—
I heard the ones you gave her were white, and real—
kicked off each black high-heeled shoe,
set the Venetian mask spinning from the gantry.
It twists its sad glitter face, this way,
that, as if it is looking for someone in the audience.
The elephant tusk nestling in the wings.
reminds me of your penis.
How insignificant, out of the spotlight.
My lines are written on my hand
in case the lead is indisposed. You’ll wink
from the front row. That will be my cue.
Late August, Antrim Coast
I walk out of my hotel and across to the harbour
catching the smell of brambles, of autumn, and the North Sea
shifts and turns, showing its silver belly, like the salmon
shift and turn in cages offshore, and waves roll in from
the Western Isles, bringing the grey horizon closer.
An Irish flag on a small mound is unhindered by a slight breeze.
I’m just passing through but every summer as a boy
my father left the city to holiday in these seaside towns.
Near where my grandfather’s cobbler’s shop used to be
in Sandy Row, kerbstones painted red, white and blue.
These borders, their perpetual trip-wires and snares.