My mother did it in secret in our kitchen,
wreathed in vapours of steam and grease.
The yellow Venetian blinds lowered their eyes.
She did it quickly as if to get it over with,
as if it was nothing, an invisible art.
And because she hated cooking. Because
she hated eating. That thing you did
between cigarettes. Hard to swallow.
Atora, Atora, Atora the packet whispered.
When I looked again it was all puff
and billow, a glassy sheen on the soft mound,
the sweet fragrance of leeks, my mother's glasses
all misted up.
So now I'm having trouble letting my hands
do what they have to without me getting
in the way, muttering vegetarian, low fat,
and making a fist of it. My kitchen's as small
as hers but there's room enough for her
to come back and show me how to sift the flour
and butter the dish, how to wrap the dough
round the green treasure of the leeks
like a white quilt, plump it up like pillows;
for us to work out together the best way
to steam it with something like love. Invisible
till it's risen and on the table to feed you.
Linda France (pictured, right, with Julia Darling) was born in Newcastle and is an acclaimed poet. She won the Basil Bunting Award in 1988 and in 1989 and the Newcastle Brown Ale Poetry competition in 1993. She was also awarded the Arts Foundation's first poetry fellowship in 1993.
My Mother's Leek Pudding was written for National Poetry Day's Feast of Poetry hosted by Julia Darling.
Linda's latest collection is Aerogramme, bringing together poems from her travels in India and Sri Lanka, produced to raise money to support a Buddhist women's community in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Aerogramme is available, price £5 (please make cheques payable to Linda France) from:
12 Derby Crescent
and you can read more about Aerogramme, including the title poem, on the Blue Room website.
Follow the link for a list of other Poems of the Month.
My Mother's Leek Pudding © 2004 Linda France: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.
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This page last updated 9th February 2005