Hard to Swallow

Under a tumble down sky
you sat with empty arms
and a heavy breast
‘You must eat.’ they said
But every time you tried
it was too hard to swallow
Too much to bear
the unripened fruit forced
from the tree by the windfall

A teaspoon of treacle
trickled in, laced with splinters
then returned with bile and venom
He worried. They worried. I worried.
You wondered as you sat in vacant limbo
at what could have been, should have been
Unable to nurse anything but a hunger
so insatiable, nothing could
wash it down your tight dry throat

They say time is a healer and so one year on
at sunrise I set a basket on your doorstep
crimson jam, warm crusted bread
fresh squeezed juice chilled, sweet
and a note asking you both
to eat together, share together
cry together, remember together
You said you ate it by the window
and tried your best to smile

Written in response to this weeks Poetics prompt ver at dVerse Poets where Claudia asked us to write about food. As a foodie it would have been easy for me to write about ingredients, Italian food or my favourite dish, but instead I remembered a friend of mine a few years back who miscarried her twin babies late in her pregnancy and the role of food and nourishment in her journey to recovery.


19 responses to “Hard to Swallow

  1. What a sad tale; but what a wonderful gesture to bring food to this woman and her husband at the time of their horrific loss. Sometimes food can be a bridge….and help someone know that others care in their own way, though nothing much can help with such a deep loss except time…… A touching, beautiful poem.

  2. oh man, what a sad tale…to lose a child is such a hard thing…def it takes time and even still i am glad in the end they took what you gave and perhaps it did give them that smile…

  3. Heartfelt. Thanks for the background info. I know that it’s hard to eat when going through difficult times.

  4. Thanx for the context. I was able to read the poem again and sink deeper.
    The first time I felt some pain, but without the context, it would have been an generic pain poem. Now it is poignant. So thanx.
    I have experience with still borns and the deep pain needing years and decades for healing. Very tough. Well written. Your kindness is touching. I am sure she appreciated it more deeply than she can say.

    Had to look up “treacle” — must be British since Harry Potter ate it.

  5. Sometimes when we know a friend is hurting and there’s nothing we can say to make it better, food seems like the only practical option – I definitely believe it helps, both physically and spiritually. Such a sad poem and beautifully told.

  6. You’re so right about “the role of food and nourishment in her journey to recovery”–nicely put in your footnote and in your poem. You capture the sadness, the concern, the slow healing. After you gave the back story, I picked up even more hidden gems on the second read–the forced windfall, the inability to nurse. Nicely done.

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