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Table Talk

by Tim Upperton

As if we would starve. As if we were shrews,
frantic and burning up like twists of newsprint.
The roast pushed aside in the pan to make way
for breadcrusts to press down on all that juice,
that fat, flipped salty and smoking into our hands.
Sausage-meat and onion. The mutton’s heave
in the oven on a summer Sunday, the blowflies
slow and comfortable. The endless tramp of shoes,
boots, the scrape of chairs. Elbows off the table.
Potatoes boiled, mashed, roasted, mashed. More?
Yes, please. Carrots boiled yellow. Pale cabbage,
flopped in a heap. Save the water. Elbows off
the table, now. Bread pudding, nutmeg and burnt
black sultanas on top, plump and brown inside.
Tamarillos bleeding in custard. Prunes and junket,
semolina, Gregg’s Instant Pudding, ten cents a packet.
Chocolate, lime green, strawberry red. Whisk up a treat.
Old woman, mother, lover, you didn’t know what to do.
Eight children and a house on fire. Yes, please. Thank you.


Tim Upperton is a creative writing tutor at Massey University, New Zealand. He has published poetry and fiction in a variety of New Zealand and overseas magazines, including Sport, North & South, Takahe, and Dreamcatcher, and he is the recipient of several literary prizes in his home country.

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