Leave the flowers until later,
When bread and butter has been cut
And strawberry jam stands on the table.
Don’t worry about anything fancy,
She won’t eat it, anyway,
Unless, of course, there are ginger biscuits,
Even then she’ll only pick one up
And eat the scent of it.
That spicey ginger smell that fills the room
Will be enough to fill her.
Intent, as she is, on fitting into that bikini
Hanging from the picture rail
On the crowded picture wall.
Red, naturally. Tiny blocks of scarlet
Tied with scraps of silky ribbon,
Pushing to one side the Van Gogh reproductions,
The Jackson Pollocks. The Constables,
The glinting golden glory of Klimt.
No, leave the flowers until later
For she has finally put it on and all she can see
Is the implacable bits of coloured misery.
Blinding her to her own lovely perfection.
Until, of a sudden, the bread and the butter
And the strawberry jam are right in front of her.
Buttered bread piled high with strawberries.
Wolf like, she devours it, teeth exploding the rich red fruit.
Red jam falling on red bikini, reaching now
For a ginger biscuit, the spicey smell of ginger
Filling the room, filling her with sweetness.
Now bring out the flowers so that she can see
She is a flower, standing there in her red bikini.
©2023 Gwen Grant
PRIVATE KEEP OUT! by Gwen Grant
published by Penguin Vintage Children’s Classics
available in paperback and as an ebook