Thursday, 29 March 2018

A poem by Peter Daniels

Self-Portrait with Quiche

With my face in the mirror at the back of the shiny cabinet
full of quiches, you can see me inside the street reflections
that have almost fallen apart as they catch the shelves,
the glass front, and the mirrored side along the shop window
which is pulling the view of the High Street backwards:

more cubist than simple paired infinity mirrors. The straight
street the Romans built has been shattered to these facets,
and a quiche has embedded itself under my chin, like
an Elizabethan ruff. Quiche was significant when the menus
exploded and Real Men Didn’t Eat Quiche (though they did)

but the menus have exploded far beyond that and now I’m
reflected eating my avocado on sourdough toast like a hipster,
– I test how they do it in all the cafés along the High Street,
some of them already closed down and new ones opened
since the avocado started its reign of smooth satisfaction.

Quiche isn’t my dish, now I keep off both egg and cheese,
though I could be once more tempted by a true quiche lorraine,
continental Europe’s egg-and-bacon pie: one sunny day between
Baden-Baden and Luxembourg I treated myself in a Strasbourg café
out of a cabinet reflecting the backwaters of the Rhine.

Now we’re becoming stranded from the shores of Europe
over our Channel, that once was the lower Rhine valley before
the sea rose and Doggerland sank, and David Cameron, splashing
around like a would-be Etonian Triton, troubled the waters with
the last ripple of the inundation of where we were once joined up.

And now this cabinet of quiche stands as my place of reflection:
do I belong with the bold quiche-eaters or with the suave
avocado mashers? Is that a choice? Do I have to eat it? There’s
Theresa May striding around in her heels like a vicarage Boadicea.
Someone should give her a quiche in the face. Maybe me.

Peter Daniels published his second collection, A Season in Eden, with Gatehouse
Press in 2016. His first collection Counting Eggs was with Mulfran Press in
2012, and he has had pamphlets from HappenStance, Vennel Press, and
Smith/Doorstop (as twice a winner of the Poetry Business competition). He has
also won the Arvon, Ledbury, TLS and Ver poetry competitions. His translations
of Vladislav Khodasevich from Russian (Angel Classics, 2013) were shortlisted
for several awards, and as Queer Writer in Residence at London Metropolitan
Archives he wrote the obscene Ballad of Captain Rigby (Personal Pronoun, 2013).

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