Saturday, 13 February 2016

Porridge


Dear Reader
                                                                    Naples

St. Valentine's Day and I expect, and sincerely hope, that lots of roses, satin hearts, and messages of love and devotion are today winging their way throughout the length and breadth of Britain, if not the world itself.  However I don't suppose many roses or letters of love will be presented at the house of an Italian woman I read about last week.  This woman could face up to six years in jail because her husband accused her of not looking after him properly, nor doing enough cooking or cleaning in the home.  Their house was slovenly, he said, and left in a terrible mess.   After reading Elena Ferrante's marvellous books about down-town Naples and the way families there behaved in the 1950s and 60s, and perhaps still do, Italian husbands did not have a high score for romanticism in any quarter.  So perhaps this woman had had enough and decided to down tools, copied her husband, and read the newspaper.   If this strange case ever does actually come to court, I do hope she is acquitted and can find happiness somewhere, and even perhaps love.


                                                                            *

Porridge


The kitchen maid
plunges thin white arms
into the heavy cast-iron pot,
scours the glutinous porridge
from its insides.
She imagines her mistress
out in her carriage
on pleasure calls,
wearing lilac silk,
freshwater pearls around her neck,
her hands, idle white, in her lap.
She weeps.


The housewife scours the saucepan,
eases the porridge from its sides,
brushes the sticky mess into the sink.
She imagines her husband
taking the train, office-bound,
making important telephone calls,
lunching with partners Lucy and George
in that Italian bistro, discussing deals,
drinking white wine, laughing, living.
She weeps.

                                                                            *

Very best wishes,  Patricia

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