Inside the Kist

Fiona Ritchie Walker

Not even washed, so I know it was his doing.
When my mother died I buried combs and clasps
to make her ready for the journey.

My hands still smell of fish.
Last thing I remember was cooking,
him complaining of being hungry.

Who will feed my children?
Our only pan lying with me
in this cold stone kist.

A pan as thick as our axe,
though not as sharp,
but in his hands struck heavy.

There are dark stains on my shawl.
He will give her my best dress,
the one I should be wearing.

She will carry her pan to my house like a prize.
Soon she will find my salt and herbs,
know all my kitchen secrets.

Fiona Ritchie Walker

Since the publication of Lip Reading by Diamond Twig, Fiona Ritchie Walker's work has featured in many magazines and anthologies, including the British Council's New Writing 15 and several New Writing Scotland anthologies. Her second collection, Garibaldi's Legs (Iron Press) was followed by the chapbook, Angus Palette (Sand) with illustrations by her sister, Kirsten.

Fiona says: "I wrote the first draft of the poem Inside the Kist on a family holiday in Norway. We visited an ancient burial site where archaeologists had discovered a frying pan buried beside a woman's body. The explanation - that she might need it in the next world - seemed a bit mundane, so I started to imagine other reasons, and one of them became the poem."

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Inside the Kist © 2007 Fiona Ritchie Walker: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.