Reader’s Choice: Mushy Peas v Avocados

Mushy Peas v Avocados

by Shirley Muir

Musical notes seep through the darkness,
not hostile, but enticing.
I’m not sure where the phone is
Who contacts me
In the middle of the night –
the bank, the tax man, scammers?

A diversion would be welcome
from the scalding pain that shrieks through my arm,
stiffens my shoulder and fingers.
I long to hear from my writing friend
thousands of miles eastward.
I hope for a poem or lines of prose
to chew over, feast upon.

I slither snake-like from under the duvet
so as not to wake the other, snoozing, occupant.
My warm fingers fumble over the bedside table
for the smoothness of the smartphone.
Not there.

‘What-you-do-ing?’ a sleepy voice slurs.
‘Shhh’, I whisper.

On the floor I locate my capacious writer’s handbag.
My right hand sifts through its contents,
a sightless, seeking mole.
Among the lipsticks, painkillers, notebooks
and packets of tissues
two fingertips make contact
with the glassy gadget.

Its pale light offers me the time,
four twenty-seven.
Three more hours till a wintry Scottish dawn
slices through the night.
I gather phone, specs and notebook,
stuff them into dressing gown pocket.
An online assignment awaits,
I pad carefully down the dimly-lit stairs.

I brew up steaming tea.
The large mug has an hour’s worth of reading on its
white porcelain, tourist talk
about scenic Scotland, images of Glen Coe,
an Aberdeen Angus observing me
through its thick, woolly fringe.

My brain evaluates shiny new words
from my distant friend.
She ponders in prose on the class-ridden conflict
between up-market avocados
and working class mushy peas –
what a dilemma for discussion by a feisty Yorkshire woman.

Just as dawn breaks over her walnut trees
beneath the snow-capped Turkish mountains
– I know because I have stood there –
I type ‘Yes, there is merit in this discursive prose, send me more.’
How clever is her pen!

Through the dark hours before
golden streaks of a Scottish dawn
ripple the surface of the cold North Sea
I can taste on my tongue the superior salty guacamole
and the powdery greenness of mushy peas in their flat caps
each fighting for supremacy.

Shirley Muir writes poems, flash and short stories. She spends her time between the Scotland coast and the Turkish mountains.

Our Reader said:

I enjoyed the atmosphere of this poem, where a woman in pain reaches for her phone in the dark early morning to read messages from her friend in Turkey.  Playful analysis of British class structure as epitomized by food choices.

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