Anne-Marie Thompson

Two poems from Anne-Marie Thompson’s Is

followed by a note on the author


When Mama’s tabby cat ran away,
something shifted, cosmic.

It was as though she felt the expansion
of the universe in her tiny bones,

aching with Earth’s extending elliptics.
This sounds hyperbolic,

but she cried less at the deaths of grandparents.
Because she thought it might

leave a trail, home-scent leading homewards,
she dragged a bedsheet

down the street, calling, Here, Tippy, Tippy.
This is not so much about

a breakdown as it is breaking down, as in
taking apart, as in an idea.

One piece: She teaches me to set a formal table,
the placement of crystal goblets.

Another: She corrects the grammar and usage
of tenth-grade students, circling

split infinitives, crossing through busted out.
In the end, nobody cares,

not even Mama, whether or not the blade
faces inward, or whether

the neighbors stare from respectable windows.
In the end, it’s not a burst at all,

but a slow pulling away: the planets acting on
each other, changing incrementally

their own orbits. They say Neptune and Uranus
may have switched places.

But all this was years ago, eons, long before
we ever thought to look up

into the darkness, before we realized
how far away we’d gotten.



Dr. Panda Hoopa City 2

You build the world, with gardens
and roads and hospitals and houses
and animals walking around like people,
because this is a game for preschoolers,

and you watch the animals work and eat
and drive and sleep and then you notice
the world is flat, a large flat square
floating among the clouds, and so

you start picking up and dragging
your anthropomorphic pandas
and elephants and cats and hippos
to the edge of the world and letting go.

You drop them all over the edge,
every single one, because, you say,
There are always more. The animals say, Oh!
and poof into nothing, and then

other nearly identical animals appear
in their places. When I say that’s not nice,
and not the way to play the game, you say,
I’m sending them to Texas, which seems

these days as plausible as both a flat earth
and people walking around like people.
When I went to Texas to take care
of my dying mother, I was gone

for three weeks, during which time
you were praised: Thank you for being so good,
thank you for letting Mama go. I returned changed,
red-eyed and prone to leave the room

in the middle of a game. You learned
when to ask questions and when
to keep playing without me, sending more
and more over the edge, sending help.



Lost first appeared in Iron Horse Literary Review; Dr. Panda Hoopa City 2 first appeared in Poetry Northwest.

Anne-Marie Thompson is the author of Audiation, winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize. She has taught music, writing, and literature at Johns Hopkins University, Westminster College, Lincoln University, and the Syracuse Downtown Writers Center. Originally from southeast Texas, she now lives in Syracuse, New York, with her husband and son.