‘The Kitchen Cupboard’ by Mary Thomson

For Annette

I used to sit in your kitchen, or you in mine,
now we each make coffee and sit with our phones,

unpack what has accumulated since the last time.
It’s the same when I clear out my kitchen cupboards.

That packet of chick peas I thought I’d make hummus with,
it’s months out of date and I don’t do that sort of thing,

never have, and I hear you say: so why would you now?
I find a tin of anchovies I’ll use right away,

and artichoke hearts — forgotten but not out of date;
recipes assemble themselves in my head

as I clear,
as we talk,

as we sift and sort, seeing for each other
the bits worth keeping and which to throw away.

After our call my mind is as ready to be productive
as my newly cleaned kitchen cupboard.

(From A Kindness of Women)


“My dearest friend, Annette, lives in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire, which is where I used to live before love brought me to Scotland twelve years ago. She is an artist and we share an understanding of the struggles and joys of being creative people. We are so in tune (and of an age) that we often find ourselves working on similar themes, even now that we are over two hundred miles apart, and in fact have collaborated more than once. The phone is our substitute kitchen table, the place where we spill out our thoughts and sort through them for each other.”


Mary Thomson lives in Glasgow and came to live in Scotland when she married a Scot in 2006. Before that she worked in Yorkshire as an art critic/curator/writer. Now she writes and publishes her poetry and has produced six pamphlets since she came to Scotland – two of which have been short-listed for the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award for Pamphlet Poetry. Mary’s submission for the Hold My Purse Project is a poem taken from her first pamphlet, A Kindness of Women.


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