Throwback Thursday: James Lasdun

Issue 26: 1996

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“Lime Pickle” by James Lasdun

 

Your father, not yet divorced,

Rosy-cheeked from the Garrick,

In his Savile Row pin-striped suit,

Presided over the feast.

 

He spread the menu like a general’s map,

Plotting his debauch

On the virginal palates

Of his teenage daughter and her first “chap.”

 

In our singular innocence

We had tasted nothing stronger

Or stranger than each other’s lips

But your father’s extravagance

 

(It broke him later)

Shoaling in salvers on the table

Under the tabla’s gulp and throb,

And the moan of a sitar

 

Made our mouths water.

Unlidded, the dishes sizzled;

Sweet, spiced, sprinkled with edible gold;

A taste of our imminent future,

 

Though what I recall

Most clearly twenty years on

As I read his obit in the The Times,

Is the spoonful of lime pickle

 

He tricked me into eating;

His harsh laughter

As it burned like a living coal

On my astounded tongue

 

Which however has learned

His own preference for mixed blessings

Having grown sharper since then

And somewhat thicker-skinned.

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