This autumn morning
sun streaming in through the windows
back door open to the world
she is in the kitchen,
adding fruit to sugar, making
half-pound pots and plans
in blackcurrant, strawberry, and plum.
She has put something suitably triumphant
on the stereo, all brass and kettle drum
turned up the volume
till the speakers rattle,
is humming along as she stirs
the rich rolling boil
with a wooden spoon
now licked clean, now a baton, now a sword
and when her Wedgewood figurines dance
along the shelf in time to the music
she catches them before they hit the floor.
In the slow thickening of syrup
she sees the wonder of new worlds
made real, this transformation
of constituent parts into something more
a sweet, sweet alchemy which needs
no explanation, is end enough in itself.
Each screwed-down lid is a brick
in her new Jerusalem,
each cooling jar a gift
to be shared with neighbours and friends –
Mr Roberts at no 11 who struggles with his mental health
Tracey next door in her England kit
who’s a little bit in love with Marcus Rashford
Vanessa at the vicarage who’s partial to lamb.
That afternoon, the 39 bus which carries her
into town for darts is a slow, aged chariot
of smoking diesel
finding every pothole
slamming round every backstreet,
passing old, abandoned mills.
In her basket are jars
for the ladies in the team
wrapped with love
tied with little bows of gold
she knows will make them grin.
From under her Amazon baseball cap
she watches clouds part over
low mountain, high fell
the landscape unfolding in
purple and sage and dun
endlessly renewing itself.
Returning home later
feet tired and swollen,
arrows having found their mark
she’ll flop down on the sofa
slip her shoes off
pour herself another ale
lose herself in the sunset,
a vision of fire
over the green of her garden.
And when the sky turns dark,
her heart as full of hope as ever
unable to countenance a life without it,
then she’ll put on some reggae.
Always her favourite.
© Steve Pottinger