A dropped paring knife, a tray of potatoes
in hot fat slipping from the work surface edge.
A dough overworked. A haircut, one side
then the other, then the first again. I’ve tried
to save so much it would be better to let go.
A finger opened to the white for a dent
avoided. A sopping burn to stave off
a semi-public mess. The losing exchange
of potential for completion. Beauty chased
till it got away. So many of mum’s stories
ended with “and all for”: he swerved and broke
his neck and all for a squirrel. I asked
him once, my old games teacher, if he wished
he’d gone on straight and squashed the bastard flat,
but words are cheap, and he lied, as you should
to a child, and he said he’d do the same.
Ali Lewis is associate editor of Poetry London. His debut pamphlet “Hotel” is published by Verve.
This article appears in the 17 Feb 2021 issue of the New Statesman, War against truth