2nd, Short Category 2009 - Matthew Stewart
Instructions For Coming Home
Your fingers will have to trespass
through umpteen kitchen drawers. Let them.
The gas rings will purr. That's their sound.
Hack at a spud. Defy its eyes
with your knife. Crack eggs and watch them
splutter. You'll remember this smell
used to greet you at the front door.
Lever them free, the spatula
no less a tool than any spade.
Now confront the day, bite by bite.
I liked this poem immensely. It is completely unpretentious but has the reader wholly in its power, because it is completely in control of all it does. I was carried along by the confident chain of commands, colloquial tone and the stream of sound, smell, and memory. For all its matter of fact tone, this is a profound poem. I am still thinking about its provocative comparison of spatula and spade (home versus Heaney?). The poem’s excellent ending, ‘bite by bite’ leads on from breakfast to all the challenges of the day, family and life. Commentators on modern poetry often worry about its difficulty; a worry which I sometimes share. Here is a fine poem which I think would hold the attention of anyone who has ever cracked an egg or gone home: in fact, almost any reader.