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Pin Cushions by Glen Wilson

Arts Richmond

Online - 16 September 2020

Pin Cushions by Glen Wilson

The recall is paper-cut-quick,

red circles out on my thumb.

I am back at my grandmother’s farm,

sticking one pin after another

into the chintzy pin cushion;

the surface always yields.


Behind me pale Victorian women dance

and swoon on the mantel,

chipped porcelain spaniels stand proud,

pawing at the family photographs.

The frames grow fat with years,

portraits are placed in order under glass,

pictures gild, sharpen.


But even that doesn’t keep off the dust,

daily in its shedding of all our importance;

we are but mere summoners of fire.

I catch my fish-eye reflection in the brass coal bucket,

turf logs cloy the air from their wicker basket,

giving the room weight, giving it colour.


I run my finger along the striking surface

of a box of Swan Vestas matches

and admire the swan’s curved neck

bearing that elegant burden.

Boxed in red, yellow and green

are the conjuring sparks of every fire

my grandmother ever lit.


Names can be forgotten, but presence –

we all recognise that, all need that.

On the dresser sleeps a silver pin,

I hold it and it is sharp,


sharp enough to make me recoil.


from ABOUT TIME, the 2019 anthology of shortlisted entries from The Roger McGough Poetry Prize. Copies of this Anthology can be purchased for £5 including P&P from Arts Richmond.

Pin Cushions by Glen Wilson

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