Monday, November 28, 2011

Poetry Monday

Lime Pickle

by James Lasdun

Your father, not yet divorced,
Rosy-cheeked from the Garrick,
In his Savile Row pin-striped suit
Presided over the feast.

He spread the menu like a general’s map,
Plotting his debauch
On the virginal palates
Of his teenage daughter and her first “chap.”

In our singular innocence
We had tasted nothing stronger
Or stranger than each other’s lips,
But your father’s extravagance

(It broke him later)
Shoaling in salvers on the table
Under the tabla’s gulp and throb
And the moan of a sitar

Made our mouths water.
Unlidded, the dishes sizzled;
Spiced, cream-rich, sprinkled with edible gold;
A taste of our imminent future,

Though what I recall
Most clearly twenty years on
As I read his obit in The Times,
Is the spoonful of lime pickle

He tricked me into eating;
His harsh laughter
As it burned like a living coal
On my astounded tongue

Which however has learned
His own preference for mixed blessings,
Having grown sharper since then,
And somewhat thicker-skinned.

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