On an impulse she reached for the spatula and picked me up,
and the laugh’s on her because I’m a vegetable scoop.
Who’s to say the vague wave that parlays thought to action
has a stave of rationality, a damned rationale, a dash of logic,
but it certainly has a clash of colours – I’m red and the spatula’s black,
so what if we’re jacked on the same rack – somehow none of this
meant jack to the mad woman who picked me with abandon
and sacked me into her backpack!
Thus begins my pilgrimage, poked – an insane antenna,
a dish with neat holes, a crimson signal catching the sunrise
and shouting red to its orange, getting stares from the squares
who could not see the cool sense in a peripatetic kitchen implement,
a culinary tool, on the saunter, proud of a lady’s rucksack;
to them she’s just someone who sings, someone who peers,
someone who on odd days is buttoned up wrong, while to me
she’s (now) the captain of a great adventure with me as half-passenger,
half-mate, all-mute because – hey! – I’m a vegetable scoop already,
see me you train-riders, you busload, you city perambulators,
Morning long I’m stacked on a spare chair, ignored (she pretends,
she pretends, she feigns and fends) while she comes and goes
hither and yon to get this and that from here and there,
the zipped pockets and zapped pouches pulled by rings and things,
more often bothered with quotidian office pother;
and then she sees me as if for the first time, grimaces puzzled,
takes me out and tries my resilience on her desk-top, hammering a tattoo,
syncopating with the tick-tock of the office clock, improvising a hammy mambo,
a bossa nova, then lays me with obsessive precision alongside
some table-topped accoutrements; tensely, present merges past,
over and again.
From time to time buddies drop by and ask
– WTF’s that?
To which she answers
– Oh, you know, with a knowing wink, and they leave as ignorant as they came.
At lunchtime we’re to the park where she, having depacked her sandwiches
and despatched them, some to herself, some to the eager pigeons
and crying, marauding seagulls, she takes me in hand and conducts
some unseen, insane orchestra from her bench, or makes arcane semaphore,
or sciences eldritch passes with me, full of magical intent and indeterminate effect.
There’s a sign with this legend:
NO BALL GAMES. ALL DOGS TO BE ON A LEASH.
NO CYCLING OR SKATEBOARDING. NO FIRES.
Sometimes an official approaches, but any reproach dies in his throat
when he’s close and sees me, red, concave, neatly holed, designed to drain,
meant to scoop from a culinder, peas, beans, corn, and cabbage,
and so the savage objection cools and subsides, he heaves a sigh,
shrugs as though with a shouldered sack of coal, retreats as she beats the air.
Once she has had enough of her imagined steam-driven wind-band,
she stands and bears me back to town, goes shop-to-shop,
using me to turn over merchandise while the shop girls
and the boys in tight, short suits frown and glare, go to say something
but think better of trying to best someone who has personality difficulties,
or so they deem, or so it seems. Oh how proud she carries me,
how she beams and grins, as full of beans as I myself am wont to be
on cooking days, now she has the serendipity of a scoop and not
the pat predictability of a spatula! So back to the inevitable office,
where she pride-of-places me again, only for me to be stolen
by some jealous, pranking colleague, plonked amongst the sad,
chipped, chewed, unwashed items in the break-out spot,
found again at afternoon teatime with a puzzled brandish,
surely she had missed me?
At the last, as the tick-tock of the office clock turns to tock-tick
to flag up going-home time, she, the first in, is last out,
and I am rammed like an afterthought back in her bag
for the journey home, I muse, I reflect, I resolve to compose my memoirs.
At last, as an afterthought to a mad, long day,
before she kills the kitchen spots and darks the familiar space,
she re-racks me, where I relax into my familiar plastic shape,
sigh, rediscover my being, my place, reclaim my rightful scoopdom,
dream as much as a kitchen tool can do of the possibilities
of the bright, to-come tomorrow.
Beside me on the day-long rack the prisoned spatula seethes!
©Marie Marshall. By special request.