The Still Room
And that was that. The cook
wouldn’t let her near the soft fruits,
not to be trusted with blackberries stains,
strawberries and the flesh of the plums.
The starched matriarch nuns her attention
over the jam pan, eyes her
and she, left pimpled with the lemons,
hard and unyielding, takes the blade
to extract, to scratch and scrape
rinds to make the drink. They mist
her eyes red, sting her hands. Then
so much sugar; the weighing aches teeth.
and when the cook, leaves to retrieve
her jars, with a last over the shoulder look,
the maid adds the juice of a secret lime, hiding
the pulped body under yellow trimmings.
She wonders if they will notice
the change upstairs, on ice, whilst
here, her armpits darken moons.
And then she dabs the sap behind
her ears, the pulse on her wrist;
a sour dissent.
Jennie E. Owen’s writing has been widely published online, in literary journals and anthologies. She teaches Creative Writing for The Open University and lives in Lancashire, UK with her husband and three children. She is currently working on her PhD under the guidance of Manchester Metropolitan University.