Wild Goose Poetry Review, No 34, Spring 2018
IN THAT PLACE
Sometimes from the window you’d see a woman pass
In the street below, bent to the task of pushing
Her baby’s pram heavy with daily shopping.
You’d see her plod through rain, her thoughts opaque
To you as the sky that veiled the wet white sun.
You too had a pram, and children. You walked beneath windows.
You pushed your little loneliness up the road.
In those distant days, your days were made of footsteps,
To school, to market, across Midsummer Common,
Along the towpath, where narrowboats rode their moorings.
Remember that boat you loved for her name alone:
The Unthinkable. There, now, again, you’ve thought of her.
You walked into town, past shops selling halal meats,
Buckets of brussels sprouts knobbled and alien,
Their stalks looking ready to burst into glorious bloom,
If you didn’t know better. See, this too you remember.
You must have existed. There were your children. Always
You stopped at the bakery first to buy them sausage rolls.
One baby cried. Another uncurled inside you,
Thumping her hidden fists on the taut, slick walls.
Everywhere you went, you were her motherland.
Night fell. In the rain, headlights ran downstream.
Looking up, you’d see the the lamps left on
In a window — yours — exhaling gold in the dark.
Home is a thing you make out of light and warmth.
Life is a thing you make out of what you discover
Behind you, rain, children, yes, and loneliness,
That lullaby you find yourself hummming now
As you lean your forehead against the cold dark window
And see, in the street, a young woman walking by
Pushing a baby. What does she hope will happen?
She turns the corner. None of us can stay.
Five pelicans in a wavering line
Hang on the wind
Rumpling the squall-colored sound.
Saltmarshes’ silver mazes pock with rain.
This island’s a curving fossil spine
In a broken white
Scree of breakers. Wet
Thunderheads pile like dirty rags above it.
Today no shrimper’s nodding at its net.
Though the back taxes wait,
He steps outside for a smoke.
Another dead week —
In the kitchen his wife mutters at the sink.
Black weather gathers itself to break.
As in laundromatic, your washing done –
Done! – transfigured, made whiter, brighter,
By the alchemy of grainy vinyl floor,
Thin uremic light aging against
A windowful of sun, the sullen eyes
Of the woman whose bedroom slippers slap
Linoleum the way she’d like to slap
You, when you’ve let your clothes pool
Five seconds too long at the bottom
Of the dryer, your tumbled things steaming
Like the beagle you saw on the highway
Into town, laid open to the knife-
Edged morning air, the live heat escaping
Visibly through the torn skin, the soul
Climbing from its dog suit. Done.
Bio: Sally Thomas’s poetry and short fiction have appeared recently in Dappled Things, Relief: A Journal of Art and Faith, Ruminate, and Windhover Journal. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Fallen Water (2015) and Richeldis of Walsingham (2016), both from Finishing Line Press. The poem cycle which comprises Richeldis of Walsingham is currently under production as a series of monologues for the stage, and will open the 2018-19 theater season at Belmont Abbey College.
I heard Sally read IN THAT PLACE at Taste Full Beans on 4/10/18 — I was impressed then and more so after reading and re-reading. These are three delicate poems, sensitive, able to pluck a harmonic from the heart with just a word or two. Well . . . done.
Thank you, Bill, for these kind words. I enjoyed your reading so much, and am continuing to enjoy your book.