the work of Myra Schneider
A crucial ingredient is the right frame of mind
so abandon all ideas of getting on. Stop pedalling,
dismount, go indoors and give yourself masses of time.
Then begin by heating a pool of oil in a frying pan
and, Mrs. Beeton style, take a dozen onions
even though the space you’re working in is smaller
than the scullery in a Victorian mansion. Pull off
the papery wrappings and feel the shiny globes’ solidity
before you chop. Fry the segments in three batches.
Don’t fuss about weeping eyes, with a wooden spoon
ease the pieces as they turn translucent and gold.
When you’ve browned but not burnt the cubes of beef
marry meat and onions in a deep pan, bless the mixture
with stock, spoonfuls of paprika, tomato purée
and crushed garlic. Enjoy the Pompeian-red warmth.
Outside, the sun is reddening the pale afternoon
and you’ll watch as it sinks behind blurring roofs,
the raised arms of trees, the intrepid viaduct.
In the kitchen’s triumph of colour and light the meat
is softening and everything in the pot is seeping
into everything else. By now you’re thinking of love:
the merging which bodies long for, the merging
that’s more than body. While you’re stirring the stew
it dawns on you how much you need darkness.
It lives in the underskirts of thickets where sealed buds
coddle green, where butterflies folded in hibernation,
could be crumpled leaves. It lives in the sky that carries
a deep sense of blue and a thin boat of moon angled
as if it’s rocking. It lives in the silent larder and upstairs
in the airing cupboard where a padded heart pumps
heat, in the well of bed where humans lace together.
Time to savour all this as the simmering continues,
as you lay the table and place at its centre a small jug
in which you’ve put three tentative roses and sprigs
of rosemary. At last you will sit down with friends
and ladle the dark red goulash onto plates bearing
beds of snowhite rice. As you eat the talk will be bright
as the garnets round your neck, as those buried
with an Anglo-Saxon king in a ship at Sutton Hoo,
and the ring of words will carry far into the night.
– Myra Schneider
Circling The Core (Enitharmon Press 2008)
© 2009, poem, portrait (below), and book cover art (below), Myra Schneider, All rights reserved and presented here with the permission of the poet. Photo credit ~ Pot of Goulash by Ralf Rolestschek via Wikipedia under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NonDiriviative 3.0 U.S.
MYRA SCHNEIDER ~ is a poet, a poetry and writing tutor, and the author of Writing My Way Through Cancer and, with John Killick, Writing Your Self. Her poetry collections, Circling the Core and Multiply the Moon, were published by Enitharmon Press. She has eight published collections. Her most recent work What Women Want was published earlier this year by Second Light Publications.
Myra’s long poems have been featured in Long Poem Magazine and Domestic Cherry. She co-edited with Dilys Wood, Parents, an anthology of poems by 114 women about their own parents. She started out writing fiction for children and teens. We first discovered Myra through her much-loved poem about an experience with cancer, The Red Dress, which she generously shared with readers here in our Perspectives on Cancer series in 2011.
Currently Myra lives in North London, but she grew up in Scotland and in other parts of England. She lives with her husband and they have one son. Myra tutors through Poetry School, London. Her schedule of poetry readings is HERE.