Thursday, March 07, 2024

Kitchen Table, Treatment Room

 —Poetry by Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth,
Wrexham, Wales
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of
Stephen Kingsnorth

The fig bowl not a bowl at all,
but named so in the family,
an amber pot like honey glazed,
but circled, fig limbs curling round.
Because he daily ate them, loved—
the routine comfort of itself—
hard pressed and packed in cellophane,
a fruit unseen in nature’s growth,
the tree alike unknown to him,
save on the Bible picture page.
But there, in corner, by his chair
the brave pot made its stand for him—
assumed an heirloom from his past—
who taught the scriptures all his life
but never saw the Holy Land.
I wonder how it would have been—
he who never sailed or flew—
a trip to see that native soil.

Could he drink deep beside the shore
and eat his fig by Galilee,
see sycamore by Jericho,
the winepress near tiered vineyard hills,
those garnered fields from sowers’ work?
Or more annoyed, commercial tone,
injustice seethe for Palestine,
take pills for change of food and time,
dream, his chair, and the fig bowl?


Dead leaves, tea treasure chest, transport,
once caddy locked, Nilgiri hills,
one scoop for each plus ‘one for pot’,
then cosy capped against cool draught,
bone china cup with pinkie crooked,
more likely mug when comfort sought.
Restricted bag with lifting string,
but better loose, then strained with milk,
yet how the study, upturned cup,
those swirling specks in saucer tipped,
for seers and charlatans to treat.
What is our reading, comfort break,
the past consoled, or future meet?
A ceremony of the heart,
the kitchen table, treatment room.


There’s nowt so cozy, cup of tea,
said pot prepared with boiling scald,
one scoop for each plus ‘one for pot’,
then cosy capped against cool draught,
as leaves infused or mashed, e’en stewed,
each clause of place as gazetteer.
From first weak pour to builder’s brew:
bone china cup with pinkie crooked,
translucent body of the ware,
or mug with sugars piling up,
and floating bag since loose the norm.
‘Shall I be mother’, lore of pour,
a cuppa, char and chai well known,
when ‘squeeze one more’, ceramic told,
the rite for every mishap calmed,
a comfort break as ministered,
ceremony unrealised.


My meal means mouthful maelstrom,
strange sense, secretions by buds,
aromas acting as they should,         
trigger to tingle under tongue,
sharp shooting zest meets test,
those first incisors, firebrand taste,
tandoori chicken, bite of breast.


As comfort, night time malted drink,
a pattern followed, by the clock,
without good reason to disown—
why would I end the day alone?

I’m told that change is all around,
I’m not an island to myself,
or I’ll be simply left behind,
which is my lot—as I remind.
Change marks growth, from seed to bloom,
but do core values yet remain,
the mannerisms, polite style,
courtesy, respect, second mile?

While yes, there’s much so strange to me,
it is routine, my leading star,
for I need anchor, taking strain,
secure hold, less their binding chain.
They have my ways mechanical,
when customary more my frame;
I sense my five alone will guide,
but well-worn paths from synapse hide?

Now dado, carpets, green I see;
this path I’m sure goes to my room.
But when the bell chimes in my head,
the corridors are meat and bread.
So here I am at bed and board,
with folks uncertain who they are;
that night time malted drink my own,
so I’ll not end this day alone.


Is it branched tree in carmine sky,
a silver beech in silkscreen art;
is it red cabbage for the chop,
when pickled, with a meaty dish?
Is this rare steak, so marbled strange,
more flesh exhibit than a meal;
are these branched veins, the patient dyed,
or desiccated, mummified?
It may be all, or none of these—
for context, knowledge, how perceive;
so, art, cuisine and butchery,
the surgeon staring, scope or screen,
or Fleet Street demon barber dream?

I have met each in past life scenes—
but what of you, and where you’ve been—
what have you seen to raise the steaks,
to lay your bet on what is framed?
So much fake news, but this I know—
and not cause AI told me so—
this is the work of Sweeney Todd,
said surgeon barber, stripey pole,
who sliced his victims, well-preserved,
and served them, oriental meal;
chop-suey of short back and sides,
with cutthroat razor, threw a strop,
to lift his cargo, meaty dish.

So that’s my takeaway today,
that Mrs Lovett of meat pies,
a penny dreadful deceit, lies,
some fiction friction to deny.
As huddled in this corner space
with graphic prompts snipped down to size,
bred cabbage, brassica unfurled—
though whole, when split, still writhes white tree—
I find new worlds and words uncurled.  
My aches retreat from inclined plane
(this rise-recline at angled choice),
my licenced verse unbalanced, fine,
as poetry my dopamine.


Today’s LittleNip:

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.

—C.S. Lewis


—Medusa, with thanks to Stephen Kingsnorth for today’s poetry—a fine packet of food for thought! The cup-of-tea motif was an Ekphrastic challenge on our last Form Fiddlers' Friday. Check into the Kitchen tomorrow for more "cuppa" poems from Stephen and others.


A reminder that
Poetry Night Reading Series
in Davis tonight features
Maceo Montoya and León Salvatierra.
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