I wrote this poem during a month’s writing fellowship at a Scottish castle. It was commended in the 2017 YorkMix poetry competition.
Grief needs feeding.
At first we feed it sweet and boneless things:
memories, halva, meringue,
the songs the gone used to sing.
We feed it whole boxes of Cornish fudge,
honey spooned straight from the jar,
cold custard sucked from the carton
and for a while, we appease it
until it starts begging for blood
and then we turn to the dead things
and though we’ve not touched flesh for years
we find ourselves in the supermarket
filling our trolleys with meat-
the reddest, most visceral kind:
packs of mince and liver,
black pudding, knotty hearts,
plump kidneys, slabs of beef and livid steaks-
things that leak and mourn in colour
in their polystyrene trays
and though we cook without tears
our lonely kitchens smell of dying.
Our garish fridges
stink of butchers’ gutters,
drift-tide rot, things on the turn,
gashes on the brink of gangrene.
Each meal is a little wound. (every meal’s a little wound)
Our plates are holes
we cannot fill.
Like grief, our hunger’s
Kummerspeck is a German word to describe the excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally translated it means ‘grief bacon’.