• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 07
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How they meet their end

One, its daily fill of milk
a staple at the servants’ breakfast table –
thick cream rising slowly as they bolt
cold eggs and sausage – gathers chips
along its rim for years, until one final crack
splits it, and it’s tossed out back.

Two sits lonely on the shelf
in the unused room. Its thin neck’s
snapped by the housemaid,
whose duster slips. She’s thinking
of the cook. It was meant to hold nasturtiums,
or whatever in the garden is in bloom.

Three, honey-trails inching down
its ridged sides, gets too close
to the cast-iron pan, fat splattering
as johnny-cakes are flipped
high by the cook, showing off
on Pancake Day. Lent’s a long season.

A harder crash for number four.
Pease porridge on the cold tile floor,
lid cracked in two, pot smashed, and
cold fish for tonight’s supper instead.
Crevices streaked with blackened stews,
richness for tomorrow’s meals no more.


How they meet their end

Five, the porcelain sheep, is never seen again.
The daughter’s got it, though, hidden
at the back of the wardrobe, with other
purloined treasures: a blue enameled hairpin,
a cracked pocket-mirror, a letter that begins,
‘Dear Alice, forgive me, I never meant…’