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Salt, sugar, acid, heat. - Helen Dring

My grandmother was what you would call a full woman –

hands as salt pillars pummeling in to a pastry that would always curl in the same places.

You will eat pies, later, impossible pies trying to be perfect

and miss that curl, a gentle break in her amour.

My grandmother would salt her words well, too, coating them with a difficult to swallow seasoning but never

would that salt rub in to a wound that wasn’t loved and

she could heal the aching gape in you with only the tips of her fingers on your shoulder.

My grandmother was full in the ways only something that has been ripped apart before it comes back together is –

the way vases cracked and painted gold are beautiful –

she was green-beautiful in her anger.

My grandmother was a full taste of a woman –

salt, sugar, acid, heat

and softness, a roux that, once rendered, told your tongue that

everything was safe now.

My grandmother’s tongue was bitter when she needed it –

to the men who told her about secret rules

to the women who looked at her as though she was the one to follow them

she would burn their questions to a crisp.

My grandmother would argue she was right even if ‘right’ was more foreign than any stranger welcome in her home,

she would teach you to doubt men and God alike but

never your father.

She was, after all that, right.


Helen Dring is a PhD student and poet from Manchester, UK.


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