Joy Reid: ‘The last strawberry jam’

The last strawberry jam

In reverence I spread it thin as black ice,
sink crampon teeth into bloodied bread.

You were ever a contradiction
way back when
ravioli, gnocchi, polenta, risotto, ossobuco
and other such staples graced our plates,
for Spam, SPC baked beans/spaghetti and IXL jam
also made their curtain calls.

That jam really did …

Sometimes you had to give the can a thump,
then a puppy-scruff shake
till the gelatinous plug slithered out like afterbirth
with an Old Man Emu “gloop”.

It wasn’t until after we’d fled the family home
that you finally found time to finesse.

So it is that I unearth
your red hoard of finely diced frozen fruit flecked
with tiny diverticulitis-inciting seeds.

In an Arcoroc bowl they crouch, captive, crystalized,
awaiting the still sporadically ripening harvest
the birds will now have.

I compost them along
with dozens of lumpen bags of baby flash-frozen peas
well past their used by date.

They lie like frog spawn, frost melting
forming a mucusy pond.

Waste was ever a terrible sin, yet, my guilt,
though sharp, could not stomach them.

So I ate, instead,
the last strawberry jam that you would ever make.

Joy Reid


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