by Gail Thomas
I feared grandmother’s faded corset
draped over the shower bar, laces
dangling like naked pink worms.
And the way my gentle father
morphed to monster when faced
with a leaky faucet or faulty lock.
On Halloween I did not want to be
a princess, though rescue seemed exciting
in an unnamed sexual way. I asked for
matador, like the poster in our rec room
of a sinuous man, twirling his red cape
before the dark beast.
My mother sewed knee pants and
bolero jacket trimmed with gold braid,
black hat, cumberbund and flaring
scarlet cape, complicit in this break
with custom, except
the suit was pink, pink, pink.
No one warns little ghosts about
the price of desire, the body’s betrayals,
and oh, the masks of want.
* * * * *
“All Hallows” is from the author’s collection Waving Back (Turning Point, 2015).
Gail Thomas, http://www.gailthomaspoet.com/, has published four books of poetry, Odd Mercy (Headmistress Press, 2016), Waving Back (Turning Point, 2015), No Simple Wilderness: An Elegy for Swift River Valley (Haley’s, 2001) and Finding the Bear (Perugia Press, 1997).
Waving Back was named a Must Read for 2016 by the Massachusetts Center for the Book and Honorable Mention in the New England Book Festival. Odd Mercy won the Charlotte Mew Prize of Headmistress Press and its “Little Mommy Sonnets” won Honorable Mention in the Tom Howard/ Margaret Prize for Traditional Verse.
Thomas’s work has appeared in many journals and anthologies including The Beloit Poetry Journal, Calyx, The North American Review, Hanging Loose, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. Individual poems have won national prizes and Thomas was awarded residencies at The McDowell Colony and Ucross.
Her book, No Simple Wilderness, about the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir in the 1930’s has been taught in college writing and interdisciplinary courses. As one of the original teaching artists for the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Elder Arts Initiative, Thomas led workshops and collaborated with dancers, musicians and storytellers in schools, nursing homes, hospitals and libraries across the state.
She speaks at conferences and poetry festivals, reads her work widely in community and academic settings, and lives in Northampton, MA.