Poem of the week – Eating Her Children by Ellen Phethean

BreathThis week’s poem is a day early as it is National Poetry Day today. If you don’t normally read poems you could start today and I think this lovely poem from Ellen Phethean is a good place to start. Ellen was a featured poet with the Read Regional campaign last year which is where I came across her. Her poems feature childhood and family life as well as the cultural landscape of Newcastle upon Tyne and this poem should really resonate with any parents.

Eating her Children

Her babies were milky puddings,
delicate as junket, not quite set,
messy possets that she coddled, rolled
on her tongue, licking and sucking,
wanting it to last. 

Toddlers were finger food, currant-dotted
hot cross buns, eaten on the hoof, at a run,
walloped down. Only after
did she regret
the indigestion. 

She ate her ten year old for breakfast
one sunny morning, a golden croissant,
smelling warm, buttery crisp,
his own perfect curl,
she bit greedily. 

Her eldest went off: sharp as anchovies,
tough as liquorice stick, a bitter unripe olive.
She had to spit him out, go hungry,
knowing some other mouth
would find him.