Mary Thomson

We feature work by poet Mary Thomson to mark National Poetry Day 2012.

Cover of 'Some consequences of saying yes'
'Some consequences of
saying yes'.

Mary Thomson was born on a Cheshire farm and spent her working life in Yorkshire as a curator and art critic.

She moved to Scotland in 2006 to marry a Scot whom she had met only briefly, but unforgettably, in 1979. Since coming to Scotland she has published three collections of poems and also designs and makes miniature handmade books of individual poems.

These two poems are taken from 'Some consequences of saying yes'. The poems explore metaphors for the making of a life with her husband in Scotland and delineate the many reappraisals of significant past relationships that followed from this new perspective and sense of self-hood.


The Bay Tree

For five winters it shivered in the sunless cold,
alone in my stone-flagged Yorkshire yard.
A puny bargain, I gave it a home
in a big clay pot, where each year it won through
and sent out bright leaves, viridian when new,
that darkened and dulled until pulled for soups and stews.

It moved with me and lost leaves; waited until
we broke the pot and, with kind words
spread its roots and firmed with our boots the deep new soil.
Now, between warm brick walls, our bay
has become the tree it was meant to be;
sturdy and aromatic among the chives and rosemary.




If I had to walk through a room he was in
I would make myself invisible and slip
from hall to back door, to a kinder place.

He was not like other fathers
who tickled and sang at birthday parties.
Like an empty building
he was silent as a wound,
cold as charity.
I never told him anything,
avoided stepping on the ice that would surely crack
and cut and tumble me down.

I cannot remember when it started,
the trying not to be noticed.
Because nothing we could do was right or helped,
when I took him a cup of tea
if he did not look me in the eye,
I felt the relief of the reprieved.

None of the colours I enjoy are his.
Morning skies of apricot and lavender,
evenings of flame and royal purple, they are mine,
but Bruno Roughcut, stiff collars, dirty handkerchiefs
and every damn bit of a farmyard will bring him back.

To live well now, that is my revenge
on the man for whom I made myself invisible.
He left me cold, but now I am warm.
With the man who sees me I dare to walk on ice.


National Poetry Day 2012


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