Poetry – Offerings

Photo Credit: Hannah Hsieh


This isn’t a poem about a deserted beach
or waves crashing on a pebbly shore.
This is not about listening to the distant cry of gulls
or relishing the sticky feeling of sauce on my fingers
as I eat fish and chips wrapped in newspaper.
This isn’t about looking south toward the mountains
that glow pink as they reclaim the setting sun.

Nor is this about the time we stood next to the coffin,
waiting for the monk to model our next move.
Or how thick incense smoke caught in our throats,
traveling into our sinuses to create stinging tears.
It’s not about how Richard pulled a coffin nail out with his teeth
while our son held tight to the tray of steamed buns and lotuses
or how our daughter turned away and sobbed “Grandpa”
as I stared at the coins placed over his eyes.

And this is certainly not about how mum 
lovingly prepared her devilled sausages.
Or how she would cut them up to resemble knuckles,
their pink squishy meat forcing its way out of their skins.
It’s not about her calling us to the table
where we sat with plates of steaming casserole in front of us,
soft white bread already buttered, ready to mop up the leftovers;
pungent puddles of brown sauce on our plates.

This is not about my father standing in our garden,
his khaki trousers smudged with soil.
Or how he looks out over the fence at the setting sun or bends down low
to gently poke holes ready for this season’s beans.
It’s not about how he uses a handkerchief to wipe the sweat off his brow
or waves me over so he can present me with his offerings
of carrots, tomatoes, or pears.

It’s not about any of these images, in particular.
It’s about my life and the places and people in it
and how it is all tied together by rituals.
It’s about the fear of losing those we love
despite their shortcomings and how sometimes
the people that we adore the most
are the hardest to write about.

~Katrina A. Brown

(Winning poem, Grey District Library Poetry Day Competition, August 2021)

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