The Hardness of Quinces
This mother who used to hold me, sits,
pale pod of head in the shell of her chair,
hands pleached. Word blight, leaves falling.
I have, as fruit keeper, watched over the bletting.
Autumn’s winnowed crop fattens my lap now
with forgotten butteriness, summer’s mislaid
light, all is silent save a sigh of patient cupboards.
Kitchen cloistered, windows steam-blossomed,
as if this weighted scent of fruit is incense, rite.
Her knife still knows its November role, slits, cores¸
glints a juiceless path hard as bone. Skin. See now
her quinced hands , peppered, downy with ageless bloom.
A stutter of sugar, honey shirring warmth, old appled air,
she leans like a weathered tree, stirring quiet the sweet
and sour of it all, and so our quince time must slowly pass.
How soft the cooking ends, how tender this reddened
flesh slips. Fingers flutter an emptying dish, and I know
she’s searching some lost face in the well of her gentle spoon.
The Hardness of Quinces by Mary Gilonne won 1st Prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (October 2020) judged by Roger Elkin
Mary is a translator living in France but originally from Devon. She has been shortlisted several times for the Bridport Prize, won the Wenlock, Wirral, and Segora Prizes, and placed or commended in competitions such as the Teignmouth, Bedford, Plough Buzzwords, or Penfro. Her work has appeared in Magma, Strix, Antiphon, Obsessed with Pipework , Snakeskin, Prole among many others, and in anthologies such as Mildly Erotic Verse ( Emma Press), The Road to Cleveland Pier ( Hedgehog Press) The Very Best of 52 ( Nine Arches Press) Her pamphlet ‘Incidentals’ was published by 4Word Press in 2018 .