DOROTHY NIMMO: A Birthday Present for Roger John

I would like to send you something very small
that you could carry with you always, no trouble at all.

I would like to write something you could learn by heart
without even trying and never forget.

I would give you something you already have
that you would keep for the rest of your life, that isn’t mine to give.

I would wish you enough time, enough space,
a strong heart, good spirits, a safe place.

But if you turn out to be left-handed, if you suspect your name
may not be your real name,

If you can hear the cry of bats, if you can dowse
for water, if your dreams belong to somebody else,

If when you stand at the tide’s edge looking out to sea
you hear them calling to you, then you must come to me.

Put your hand in mine. I’ll say,
It’s all right. It’s possible. We go this way.

DOROTHY NIMMO: Dream Play

I know there’s something I must do today.
It’s half an hour before curtain rise,
what is my part in this, and what’s the play?
There is a smell of greasepaint, dust and size.

It’s half an hour before curtain rise,
this is the dressing-room I know is mine.
There is a smell of greasepaint, dust and size.
For God’s sake tell me, what’s the opening line?

This is the dressing-room I know is mine,
when they begin I’ll recognise my cue.
For God’s sake tell me, what’s the opening line?
Who am I? What am I supposed to do?

When they begin I’ll recognise my cue.
You’re on! they whisper and I face the light.
Who am I? What am I supposed to do?
Forgive me, mother. Have I got that right?

You’re on! they whisper and I face the light.
and say the line that they expect from me:
Forgive me, mother. Have I got that right?
Was it the daughter that I had to be?

I say the line that they expect from me.
My voice is strangled. I’m awake. I shout
I know there’s something I must do today
and I can’t do it. You must write me out.

My voice is strangled. I’m awake. I shout
I know there’s something I must do today
and I can’t do it. You must write me out.
It’s not my part and this is not my play.

“It’s not my part and this is not my play.” I’ve seen dogs – I’ve seen pigs – that were clearly feeling and thinking exactly that. But it’s not only the odd dog, the odd pig, the odd human. I believe it is all of us at some point in our lives.