Like a bruised or broken rib
Grief gets worse before it gets better.
I thought I could stand and joke and jibe
About the wonderful Romanian
Nurse who, taking your blood,
Made us laugh and throw our heads back
When she said, mischievously,
‘Actually, I am Transylvanian’.
But even this can’t hijack the mood.
The shock of your loss still echoes
Through the mansion of the life you left behind
And of the friends and family now gathered, who knows
If we can catch you in the wind ?
Who knows how we will cope
No more with hope
You’ll pop up somewhere
How much your smile could
Melt our worries; how your food
Could feed our hunger
And our spirit too.
When you were younger
You were constantly up for adventure:
Ireland, dreadlocks, a small tattoo
You swore was only henna.
You became a young mother, a single parent.
And not knowing you knew
Exactly what to do
We all soon learnt
Of your strength, and the lengths
You would go to, to provide for your child.
The work you undertook
As catering chef and cook
In the pubs of Brighton, London
And overseas. The weddings,
The Corsican Carousel,
Hurly Burly at Glastonbury
(A thousand covers a night!)
The Basket Makers, The Lewes Arms
Bom-Baynes and St James’ Tavern
Your own kitchen at Hand in Hand –
Each of these a challenge and a new found land.
I never saw you cooking without music playing
On the small radio in the kitchen
And there’d always be a smidgeon
Of some herb I’d never heard of
Thrown in for good measure, and taste.
Later, when your knee became too sore
For you to cook professionally anymore
You explored in yourself a new creativity –
A passion for working with leather.
Then, simultaneously, you chose to care for mothers
Who struggled with breast feeding, and themselves.
It was as if the need to feed the world
Returned to its source in you
Where, in every circumstance,
Be it patisserie, breast milk or bechamel
You always knew what to do.
And then, finally, through your last trials
You showed us a new kind of knowledge.
You taught us how to forage
Not for food, nor even courage
As this was there already in abundance –
You taught us to pick and choose
Each moment as one’s last
To celebrate its brilliant rays
Without doubt or shadow cast.