The Old Empire
Between Dreamland and the Amusement
Arcade, Art-deco’s brown-gold, the foyer –
polished wood, bakelite and glass – lit up
so you could easily walk in, the usherette
in chiaroscuro gloom, ready to take you down
with her single torch beam to your numbered seat
to wait for that flicker of shadows across the screen.
Sometimes life looks simple.
Outside, one of the guards in orange day-glow
lifts the heavy steel fence to let out two young actors
into Margate’s breezy afternoon –
racing clouds over a turquoise sea.
It’s all a mock-up, he says – smiling, sotto voce.