The Greengrocer’s Daughter of Tanner Street

She could munch her way through supermarket aisles
of sweet and savoury, hot and chilled,
filling her cheeks – a worried hamster –
a ritual of mastication, the kind of sugar-shock relief
that once soothed her infant tears, diverting pain
of grazed knee or broken toy.
Saliva flowed like consolation –
only herself to give it to,
sofa-curled, hugging her threadbare pillow, Love,
she rocked roundly, mouthing so familiar lines
in the blue reflected flicker of a film,
the kind where heroines end alone.

Something always nagged for more –
an insatiable fiend of head, not belly.
She ate in the solitude of fridge-light,
chewed a sticky cud of past,
digested all the sour words.
Had there been a husband once?
There was a half-remembered face,
lost under an autumn of wrappers,
or maybe she had eaten him, absentmindedly
in the dark.  She had to have the rings cut off before
they disappeared in flesh, the way a tree grows
over wire, the way her navel vanished in folds.

She swayed magnificently in the street –
a lumber and roll, a bear’s deliberate slow momentum
past windows of clothes she could never fit.
She turned her face, safe within her luscious flesh.
She knew she was a hidden kernel –
heavy fruit of ripe potential.
All she needed was a giant bat.  How she craved
his greedy mouth, his dark enfolding wings.  She saw
the journey, passing through him – her silent, willing
fall to earth, to germinate.  Yes, yes!  Metamorphosis:
a peach tree stretching from long sleep,
its slender branches to the sky.

© Caroline Fox Betts 2010

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