Holding her hands
After Letter to my Mom, a portrait by David Jon Kassan
(BP Portrait Awards exhibition, 2014).
Veins on the backs of her hands
are thick blue cords standing proud,
showing where blood runs to the end of the line.
Growing old, they hold each other now,
where once they cradled others.
How many children have they rocked,
how many babies clasped to her breast,
who have they hugged and stroked, consoled?
How many have they waved farewell?
How many tears wiped from their eyes?
How many from hers?
How many times has she covered her mouth,
to keep the words in, to silence the cries?
Her hands enfold each other now,
resigned, accepting, long-suffering, forgiving.
The veins, blood flowing down
to the end of the line.
How her son paints them.
He wanted everything painted white,
she longed for colour.
He said white is pure and clean.
She said it looks dirty too soon,
and it is cold.
It would show all the fingerprints,
where they had been,
and all their shadows would be clear.
She will make you a tart
like you have never tasted before,
the best there ever can be.
It will be paradise in your mouth.
The flour must be the finest, whitest,
so it drifts like mist around
fat cubes of rich, yellow butter,
squeezed into the bowl.
She will leave small pieces of fat
that will dissolve warm on your tongue.
And use egg to bind the mix,
so it is as rich as you deserve.
Wash green-skinned apples,
brighter than emeralds in a mountain beck.
She will season their flesh with lemon zest and sugar,
so the tang will linger on your tongue.
Roll the pastry until it is very thin.
It will be crisp, yet melt in your mouth.
Your senses will explode with lightness.
Cut red apples into paper-thin slices,
leaving on their deep bloody skin,
arrange in precise circles over the tart.
Heat apricot jam to make a sticky golden shine,
a fine coat of sweetness on the acid heart of your dessert.
Bake until hot and then allow to cool a little –
enjoy the scent rousing your tastebuds.
Now, you want her to fill your mouth with her perfect tart,
so she will cut a flawless portion
with the double-edged blade of her silver knife.
Jackie Biggs is a freelance writer, editor and poet. She has had poetry published on websites and in magazines and anthologies, including the The Lampeter Review, Innovate arts magazine, Poetry24, I am not a silent poet, three drops from a cauldron, the Haiku Journal and Blithe Spirit. She has been Honno’s Poet of the Month. Her first collection, The Spaces in Between, will be published in September 2015 by Pinewood Press. Some of her poetry (and other work) appears on her blog: http://jackie-news.blogspot.co.uk