Poem about the past: Dish of the Dead

November 16, 2022

Image by Liliana Drew from Pexels

Pixie-Lou washes away memories of family gatherings gone by

Whilst cleaning my plate, I felt the drain of spending time with family,
The overwhelming tiredness washing over me as the sponge ran across the dish,
Again and again.

Only minutes, hours, years ago this plate had held a succulent meal.
Soft textures,
Crispy crusts,
Delicate aromas.

Held memories rich with emotions of a dish that had been served across generations,
Recalling my family’s familiar stories,
The murmurs of appreciation as common histories were shared.

The ping of the oven, tensions growing as
Aunts, uncles,
Sisters, brothers,
Fighting for space around the small kitchen table.

Expectations were high, it was coming.
The hubbub growing louder,
Sweat trickling down my neck, a cold bead resting on my back,
elbows up ready to barge younger cousins out of the way.

Stags rutting, howling wolves,
Feet thumping, swarming bees,
Gorging beasts, greedy cows,
Honey bears with sticky hands.

Contentment as stomachs are filled and calm resumes,
Confusion at the swift conversing in the language of my blood,
which means nothing to my ignorant ears, swirls around me.
Frustration as I am excluded from the one place I can call my own.

With a start I snap back to the present,
The water is ice cold,
My hands are shaking, fingertips shrivelled.

It was only now I could feel the eerie silence of a dark house long uninhabited,
Yearning for the presence of people who hadn’t been there for a long time,
Relationships gone stale,
Words etched into tombstones,
Recipes long forgotten.

The water stops running, I switch off the light and silently let myself out,
Leaving behind a plate that was no longer mine,
Wiped clean of memories from a past now gone forever

In partnership with Write by You, a social enterprise supporting young female writers to develop their creativity, confidence and writing skills.

Pixie-Lou is studying classics, sociology and geography A Levels. She wants to study classics at university and has a passion for the ancient world and ancient texts. She also loves her dogs, football and Rubik’s cubing. She loves writing and usually focuses on political or social issues that resonate with her. However, here she focuses her piece on a personal aspect of her life, how families interact and how things can change so rapidly - it can be hard to let go.

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