A Mere Trifle
In a black winter, I found this,
a leaflet amongst shopping lists:
‘a no-cook trifle’. In this house
little is cooked but lentils, toast.
Forget fresh peach, in nights of frost,
dark raspberries, winked from tins, taste best.
Madeira cake makes puddings twice
since you can steal a second slice.
Shop’s yellow custard, sleek as sun,
bursts blue boxes, beaming ‘Devon’.
Here is the Cointreau shelved for years,
its orange sweet as angel’s tears.
Grate the dark chocolate! Be heroic,
eat fragrant crumbs, which broke too thick.
Breathe oranges, grate smoking zest.
The last ingredient, the best,
is cream. What does your recipe say?
Mix it with custard? Pour away
a summer’s worth of grass and calm
on what school dinners served lukewarm?
For cream is King and cream is Queen.
Out of five years which slid between
quick finding of a recipe,
slow making of this New Year’s tea,
I offer up my poor advice.
A trifle’s wealth is not precise.
Snatch luscious tastes from fashion’s jaws,
take cherries’ ooze, angelica’s
green, succulent, neglected stem,
for final flourish. Slice and trim.
Spoon custard’s flow on fruit’s soft boat.
Whip cream’s tides, light as clouds, to float.
How much? Each lean year, I add more.
Does life ask limits? Pour. Just pour.
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Alison
Brackenbury would be pleased to hear them.