after Edward Hopper
I love this tranquil moment: the intake of breath
before the house lamps dim and the projectionist
pulls off a conjuring trick by coaxing
an illusion of light, shadow and sound
from a locked box and discs of concave glass.
The whole theater is embroidered, making
us moths in the warm glow of a triple
lantern, our rich lives soon to be shortened
by the birth of the multiplex. We will
all be forgotten eventually,
gone like the duchess whose ghost still reclines
in her love seat, waiting for the first strains
of The Birds, Charade or The Great Escape,
content as a cumulus in blue-tinged
dress, ankle idly scratching the other
to placate an itch that will not desist.
Before we are eclipsed by the darkness
that fills The Saturn, we are precious pearls.
i.m. Philip Seymour Hoffman
When the music stops, some of us, the blessed
ones, find warm, outstretched hands, kind eyes to smile
back to meet our own, palms to press against
beating palms. Others, gently pushed aside,
will clutch at cold and vacant air, or slip
between crushed velvet curtains, revealing
an empty chair beside a broken glass
still ringing from the last lips it passed.
But what did you see when you chanced
to peek behind the painted drapes that separate
the real from the fake, as autumn leaves part
on a rushing stream, as the day and night
are rent by the dream? And what uncanny
melody did you hear on the journey back
to the role you played before the siren
sang and the bell rang, when the circle closed,
when your blood ran cold, when you were led
alone through a slim light drawn needle thin
cracked just enough to let the darkness in?
Ross Thompson is a writer from Bangor, Northern Ireland. His debut poetry collection Threading The Light is published by Dedalus Press. His work has appeared on television, radio and in short films. Most recently, he wrote and curated A Silent War, a collaborative audio response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is currently working on several projects including a second full-length book of poems.