When you think about it, strawberries wear their hearts on the outside. Like we do, at our best.
This one’s for Nanas and Grans, those folk who were solace when our small worlds seemed unfair. (And for my Nan, in particular, who used to fetch her glasses before cleaning the graffiti from the pub toilets.)
Strawberries are the whole of England;
hard won from birds, slugs and a faint sun.
A reluctant fruit, seldom at its best,
yet more glorious than any other.
They’re seduction’s art full on; no bars.
Shape, scent, bite; gritty reproduction.
Lewd in their urgency, loud-as-Friday;
the pub wall graffiti of our five a day.
In the weeks before your death,
you were tired; the shops too far.
I came for tea, both of us unknowing.
You’d still forced the walk to town.
I was pregnant, nauseous, hungry.
Food that wasn’t properly dead
gave me dreams of sickness,
hallucinations of illness and anxiety.
You served strawberries and ice cream.
The only ice cream COOP sold.
Toffee chip with sauce, half defrosted.
In bowls that matched with perfect spoons.
The toffee was industrial; an iron oxide hue.
And the strawberries were getting high,
the process of full on ester decomposition,
running with juice and seeds falling.
Every strawberry since, each outside seed,
remembers all the meals we shared.
But mostly that one, that wet June,
in those weeks before I learned to cry.