Michael W. Thomas
A House to be shut up
The time of my quickness is gone.
Now my pace is that of a child
on a midnight stair. So bear with me, please,
if I drape too long a shadow on your day
as I lean to your table
and turn over this or that trinket.
Soon enough though slow we’ll straighten up
and let the light at you again. I’ll walk away
while my shadow bestows itself on casual elsewheres
like a sheet in a house to be shut up for the summer,
floating down fully spread,
knowing before it makes first touch
the breadth of peace its furnishing will need.
Buzzard BANG! as I step through the front door four feet from me on the path the bird missed its prey hits the the ground our hearts stop our eyes lock for one long second before he is sucked into the sky. Gone. The stare of him…
I remember my mother’s eyes
searching for clues,
for the familiar
her worn black purse
from which she was sure
there was money missing,
the water glass that once
held her evening whisky,
the handkerchief embroidered
with white roses, tucked
into her cardigan sleeve,
her fingers constantly on the move
twitching and plucking
as she grappled
with her world.
Reaching out I took her hand
to still it
long enough for her to feel
the warmth of the love
I was glad she could not see
blurring my vision.
Interview with the Old Cosmonaut Over eighty now a white-haired teddy bear with stars in his eyes offers me tea in the kitchen. His wife’s out shopping. Sturdy of limb, only a little bent he fills the kettle shuts the tap firmly inserts the electric plug. Check. Depresses the switch. Check. I ask him: Were you afraid when the rocket was launched out there in Kazakhstan? Were you afraid crushed by the G-force? He’s heard this one before. He smiles. No, not afraid because I was too excited and too busy taking note of procedure hearing the engines ignite. It was a thrill, yes, the grumbling roar of the fire forcing us upwards, fighting the pull of the Earth. But textbook stuff. Do you take sugar? He opens a canister in the darkening kitchen dips a finger to taste in case it’s the salt. Check. He’s an expert: pilot, engineer, interpreter of space photography. He’s a model: son of the working class, first German in space Hero of the Soviet Union. He pours the tea, stirs in sugar, sniffs at the fragrant steam, and offers me a cup. We drink. I ask him the big one: How does it look, the Earth from space? The interpreter of photography is silent. Through the window, he contemplates his little garden struggling in springtime, then says: One petal of a hyacinth, I think. Drifting. Returning to his desk, he pats the pile of letters. Fan mail. I answer every one, he says, I tell them. And his eyes glisten.
Let the light go
for it shall return.
Trust in its gift
of a dark world
with time to stop,
consider and rest.
Let the light go
surrender the day.
is a falsehood
peddled by those
who fear the dark.
Let the light go
and be thankful,
lived and survived.
We must all die
so we can live again.
Eye For An Eye There were two Sara(h)s in my class, Me and Sarah B. I was Sara A. Spelt differently. No ‘h’. Made differently. No eye. You see, I have a one-sided view of life. Marked from the very start A put me top of the register Above Sarah B. A ‘Grade A’ pupil with a gold star future Ahead of Sarah B. But my undotted eye meant that close behind Was always Sarah B Catching me out By sneaking up from the right Like Dr Who with a Dalek So I’d never see the left hook Until it was too late And I’d lie on the ground With my ‘bad’ eye Like a mashed apple And I’d count those gold stars Shining, shining Sarah B saw things I could never see Like the way I crossed my eyes As well as my T’s And looked in two different directions At the same time. But however hard she tried Her corrective surgery Never succeeded in curing me Of the ability to see what she failed to see – The extra in the ordinary You might say I learnt to turn a blind eye to everything the hard way, I say It’s easy to turn a blind eye to anything If you’ve got one
I see at first a foursquare granite base
as hard and smooth as when the block was found,
and yet the sculptor seems to trace
the outline of Prometheus unbound.
She sees a head and shoulders and a face,
a prodigy emerging from the ground,
stretching, moving, occupying space,
the granite changing shape, elliptic, round.
I close my eyes and soon I also see
a breaking wave within the solid block,
a wriggling something struggling to be free,
to break out from the gravid, deep-veined rock,
the shape of change, renewal, fragile earth,
the shape of love, of life, the shape of birth.
What the Poetry Pharmacist Could See (26th June 2019) We talk of ghosts and dust, allegiance, a constancy with the old times, the methods of always We talk of families and staff and buyouts, a century-old flip in ownership with conditions to home We talk of a place’s role in the mould of a town, its part in its pattern, a meshing of lives. And as we talk the walls lean in to listen, and we, sensing their thrill, turn round to look to see - how time weaves a skew weft in the spaces of this place, how the walls know this and offer themselves: we give you our past, use us wisely, we'll still be here after you're gone * We begin to translate the till's hieroglyphs, Yorkshire Flux, the brass buttons studding the counter's skin. And those black handles in banister's shadows, empty of hands that placed them there but holding on to their fingerprints and palmprints, cherishing the old grab and tug, eager, oh so eager, to help now. * Every speck of dust is a day in the life of a place every shifting shadow is a person passed through. And there is a bell keen to ring you will find so much in nothing