He smelt of 'fresh from the oven' adulthood,
his tongue on the hinge of his lips, his eyes spinning
with sex and cinnamon as he invited you in.
You gazed with wonder at his gingerbread house,
rocking back on your heels with childish delight.
You took a long drag on your lollypop stick
then flicked it away.
Later you spat it all back out to your friends,
showed them the goodies you'd brought back
hidden underneath your tongue. You licked
their pink bedrooms with your knowledge,
spread your laughter thumb-deep on their walls,
tasted the irony on your teeth.

Look little children, come peek at the trail of bread,
look how the teeth marks are still fresh
since they were ripped from the loaf,
look how the birds swoop, hundreds and thousands
of hungry red mouths.

Liquorice doormat, sherbet-coated window pane,
marzipan-stained glass, milk chocolate letterbox,
gingerbread door. His hair like spun sugar
in your hands.
More cream in your coffee dear? You really are the sweetest child.

Running through the forest, the soft breeze
at each girl's back, like the sound of fairies' wings.
Swooping, diving, disappearing in the shadows,
they come like wolves to the house where he sleeps.
The wizard, the prince, the eldest son
and as his walls are eaten from around his bed,
he dreams of adult things, running, swooping,
diving and of how the sugar doesn't taste as sweet
once you've gorged, indulged, stuffed yourself
with every crumb, every lick and strip.
Left not a single melting piece untouched.
He smelt of 'fresh from the oven' adulthood
They eat him too, his pale skin vibrates in their fingers,
and the rain falls on his mattress and the place
where his house used to be.

At last, licking their lips they return to the forest,
no longer wolves, just girls. They look for their path
through the night. Lost. They blame the Robins,
they blame the Swallows, they blame the Swans,
the Eagles, they blame the Vultures
and their hungry red mouths.

§     §     §

I Have Eaten
Your Parrot
I have killed your parrot and eaten him.
I am so sorry. I don't know what came over me.
How I could maim and scoff such a nice parrot
that would tell me to 'sod off and die'
whenever I walked in the room? He tasted of chicken.
I'm sorry.

Caroline Bird
Looking Through Letterboxes
©2002 Carcanet Press
Fourth Floor, Conavon Court
12-16 Blackfriars Street
Manchester M3 5BQ England

Go Home     Go Up