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Sue Spiers: a poem

Strange Brew

When she wasn't working, which was often,

she'd make gifts for birthdays and Christmas.

Jewellery; beads and silver wire inherited

from her grandfather in a lacquered chest of pockets,

of links, butterflies, hooks, cutters and pliers.

She could simmer jams and chutneys and curds

from windfall apples, fruit picked on country walks

with her Alsatian-husky cross, its nose busy in verges.

Always the berries well above cocked-leg height.

She knew about pectin, yeast and temperature.

If she caught the season right there would be spare

fruit for homemade wine. She'd helped her father

using tubes, plastic buckets and glass devices

I couldn't name to ferment and clarify.

If she was late, parsnips or potato peel sufficed.

Under her stairs was an old-fashioned larder,

suitably dark for her purposes, and cool enough

to store the finished product. Each bottle

labelled in her sloping left-handed words,

missing any hint of units or percentages.

Sue Spiers has been published online in The Lake, The High Window and Ink, Sweat & Tears, and in print in magazines like Acumen, Brittle Star, Fenland Journal and Obsessed With Pipework. She will soon appear in Artemis and in Orbis.

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