Saturday, 12 October 2013

Argot of Rye by Fran Lock

That time I lost it among meringues
listing like toppled mosques, cupcakes
piled up, knickknacks in a granny flat;
meticulously dainty chocs, in a posh
box like dolls’ house furniture. I said
I couldn’t stand it, that peevishly sweet
pretence, every morsel over-acting,
where whipped cream was a powdered
wig; Candy Land rococo with added
chintz. And you kicked me in my bad
ankle, under the table, and hissed: what
more did I want? And I started to tell
you, picking at sequined itoas of seed
from my uneaten roll, but you slapped
my hand and I cried instead, so I’ll
say it now: lover, I want what sent
Salem raving, that succotash sopping
rye, black as a bible, ripened like dark
fruit; the dense, soaked hump of it,
steaming. I want a mauled weight
of bread I can heft in my hands, stuff
to clutch; the taste of sweat and loam
and wet sand. Lover, I want a deep
dough swampy with figs; want garlic
barbs or olives big and black as rubber
bullets. Lover, I want borscht, dripping,
thick as bulls’ blood, slopped in bowls
with baby’s head pampushky. Lover,
I want stab vest slabs of honey cake.
But I see from your face that something
is lost in translation. Leave me then,
to the sour pong of my kitchen;
my splinters of pickle, my heavy-breathing
yeast. Leave me to dabble my cornstarch
like I’m dusting for prints. This is
the archaeology of the stomach and the heart.

Fran’s debut collection, ‘Flatrock’ (Little Episodes), was launched in May 2011. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Ambit, The Alarmist, Poetry London, The Stinging Fly, and in ‘Best British Poetry 2012’. Her second collection, ‘The Mystic and the Pig Thief’ (Salt), is due out in April 2014. She owns a basenji and several moth-eaten cardigans. She is still searching for the perfect cup of coffee.

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