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.