This poem was written by Christine Schauerman, our Programme Manager, a long time ago, as a piece for university. She then had an elderly neighbour who she looked after and apple trees in the garden, so the neighbour gave Christine a recipe for chutney for her to make. She thought it would be nice to share it again at this time of year!
“Fruit of Labour”
It’s November, so it’s time to make the chutney,
Her Mother’s recipe, given me by Lily.
I skin the curvaceous Ailsa Craig tomatoes,
Take out the seeds and watch my taut red hands glow.
The juices sting burning between my fingers
And seeping beneath my cold gold wedding ring.
Onions, large white orbs in brown paper frocks
That fall in flakes, I peel them then carefully chop.
My sharp knife shimmers as it slides through the flesh
Which spits back its juice in droplets in my face.
Anger tastes like this, bitterness in a cut.
It makes for my eyes. Quick! Tea Towel! Too late!
Once the flows starts it has to continue
Running its course. Briny tears slither from my nose
Into my clenched ribbed lips. I swallow them whole.
I need the comfort of my apples to prepare,
Green Bramleys to peel and dice and core.
Add them to my heap of Autumn harvest.
Mix sugar, moist Demerara that moves like heaps of maggots,
Add vinegar, sharp enough to make my eyes smart.
Leave to simmer and taste, simmer and taste till dark,
Acrid scents of pickle consume the house
Until neat jars stand, all charged up and labelled,
Remaining in the shelf to be admired, not eaten.
The good housewife on display for another season.
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