After the thing


I have finished the thing. People come up to me to say things. It seems to have gone well.

While I was in the thing it was like a dream, with laughter and pauses, some of them even in the right places. A dream, with me in it, looking in.

But now it is finished, over. The thing has finished with me.

The days I spent preparing for it, gone. The loving splicing of commas, gone. The rehearsals in the mirror, gone.

The thing has passed through me. I wonder if I was even there while it happened. (It seems to have gone well).

I am now someone else.

Somewhere else. A platform, looking at numbers. Surrounded by others, raising glasses. Silence. I am not sure I can remember my name.

A quick calculation: the hours it will take to go home. What to do in the meantime, now it is over, now I have used myself, now I am no longer of use.

Now I am no longer here.

The me at the thing, I like him (liked him). Maybe. He seemed to know what he was doing. He looked so confident, albeit briefly.

But now I have to return. I see him approaching, holding out his hand. There is no getting away.

Someone has left a newspaper next to me. Scrutiny of television pages. Perfect interiors. A view, with cows.

Wine does not help. There is no internet. The pages of a notebook, accusing (it seems a long time ago).

I have no idea what I meant.

I wonder if it happened at all.

There is. Just me.

I don’t like it.


  1. Is the ‘thing’ Kant’s (unfortunate name, especially if correctly pronounced) ‘das Ding an sich’, for which there is no consensus of translation, though I am happy with ‘the thing in itself’..In the philosophy of Kant, an object as it is in itself independent of the mind, as opposed to a phenomenon. Also called thing-in-itself..I’m not sure I really get this ‘explanation’ but it seems to point up a difference between how we perceive reality and the true nature of reality. Anyone who has had the misfortune to experience the latter has, like the Douglas Adams HGG character, had a glimpse into the Total Perspective Vortex. the only remedy is to laugh your way out of it, if you can! Perhaps laughter really is the best medecine after all, for those trying to deal with existential angst?! Worth a try at least, AW! I have proved its worth over seven and a half decades, and I sense I have finally reached a zone, where laughter alone can get me through! (Just kidding. See what I did there?! etc)


  2. The Thing and me.
    The days you spent preparing, the commas you spliced and the performance for your mirror left me wondering.
    Why haven’t I encouraged teachers to play with those words Poetry, oetry, etry, try, ry, y … because it’s fun.
    Sitting in the thick of intelligence, wondering how this soft spoken, quiet poet manages to drown out the loud opinions of other speakers. Who listens to the silent audience.
    Knowing what they want.
    Now I’ve returned to the cacophony of reality, a little of the oasis of The Thing comes with me. I’ve got my red dress on, my red dress on. Down through Hertfordshire, into the training room, swishing through poetry until the poetry’s gone.


    1. Dear Jane, thank you. This is probably the nicest comment anyone has ever left here. I’m so pleased you enjoyed my talk. I did love prepping and delivering it. As ever with deep thanks


      1. Now that has made my day. I might even be encouraged at the ripe old age of 52 to write a second poem.


    2. ‘Who listens to the silent audience. Knowing what they want.’

      Thanks Jane. That is such a great insight – so true and yet I never thought of it like that before.


      1. And that is one of your gifts, Anthony. The gentle, unassuming depths that you can access and capture with such raw and humorous honesty on these pages. Listening and speaking directly to that silent part of each of us. A real gift.


  3. I love this. Beautiful writing that goes straight to the heart of the ‘thing’. Marie Howe says it better than me, though.


    Even if I don’t see it again – nor ever feel it
    I know it is – and that if once it hailed me
    it ever does –

    and so it is myself I want to turn in that direction
    not as towards a place, but it was a tilting
    within myself,

    as one turns a mirror to flash the light to where
    it isn’t – I was blinded like that – and swam
    in what shone at me

    only able to endure it by being no one and so
    specifically myself I thought I’d die
    from being loved like that.

    Marie Howe


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.