Her Grown-Up Dress
When she came at last to that row of shops
on the long road, having left behind the dirt track,
railway-line, the sluggish brook and had fastened
round gold slides in her mud brown hair,
pulled plimsolls on her feet so the backs weren’t squashed
she found the shops were boarded up, that the woman
standing there wore a pale green cotton dress
and when the tall young man stepped from shadows
of a sealed-up shop the woman’s face was like a pearl
whose lustre lasted all the time she held his arm
and walked slowly down that long road which trains
hadn’t crossed for years, where the brook was dry,
and the cotton dress was just a stem stripped down,
its milk pale sap evaporating in air,
and the young man a tree it had briefly leaned against.
(published in Show Date and Time, 2006, Smith|Doorstop)
After he’d gone, she thought she’d bring him back
so she scoured the house for traces of his hair,
semen, blood and skin; epithelia scraped from a comb,
from her sheets after the last rite, from underneath her nails.
She ransacked sweat from a shirt he’d left.
Swabbed piss and shit from the toilet rim.
And conjured him on a night when a gibbous moon
stormed in and out of the clouds like a temper—
a man as large as bedlam, like The Angel of the North,
dumb, blank-faced, but without wings.
Flight was never in her plan. She watched him through all weathers,
parked her car a little closer when it rained
to get a better view. She watched time turn its tricks,
how his skin sagged, fell away from bones. And how rooks,
nesting in the cavity where his heart once lay, pecked
at shreds remaining, and, she swears, spat them out.
(published in The Japan Quiz, 2008, Redbeck Press (out of print)
Pam Thompson is a poet and university lecturer based in Leicester. Her publications include Show Date and Time (Smith-Doorstop, 2006) and The Japan Quiz, (Redbeck Press, 2009). Pam was selected for The Poetry Business Writing School and is one of the organisers of Word!, a spoken-word, open-mic night at The Y Theatre in Leicester. Read more at her blog Heckle.