Scottland, (b. 1955)
- I’m fond, nereids and nymphs, unlike some, of the pig,
- of the tusker, the snout, the boar and the swine.
- One way or another, all pigs have been mine –
- under my thumb, the bristling, salty skin of their backs,
- in my nostrils here, their yobby, porky colognes.
- I’m familiar with hogs and runts, their percussion of oinks
- and grunts, their squeals. I’ve stood with a pail of swill
- at dusk, at the creaky gate of the sty,
- tasting the sweaty, spicy air, the moon
- like a lemon popped in the mouth of the sky.
- But I want to begin with a recipe from abroad
- which uses the cheek – and the tongue in cheek
- at that. Lay two pig’s cheeks, with the tongue,
- in a dish, and strew it well over with salt
- and cloves. Remember the skills of the tongue –
- to lick, to lap, to loosen, lubricate, to lie
- in the soft pouch of the face – and how each pig’s face
- was uniquely itself, as many handsome as plain,
- the cowardly face, the brave, the comical, noble,
- sly or wise, the cruel, the kinds, but all of them,
- nymphs, with those piggy eyes. Season with mace.
- Well-cleaned pig’s ears should be blanched, singed, tossed
- in a pot, boiled, kept hot, scraped, served, garnished
- with thyme. Look at that simmering lug, at that ear,
- did it listen, ever, to you, to your prayers and rhymes,
- to the chimes of your voice, singing and clear? Mash
- the potatoes, nymph, open the beer. Now to the brains,
- to the trotters, shoulders, chops, to the sweetmeats slipped
- from the slit, bulging, vulnerable bag of the balls.
- When the heart of a pig has hardened, dice it small.
- Dice it small. I, too, once knelt on this shining shore
- watching the tall ships sail from the burning sun
- like myths; slipped off my dress to wade,
- breast-deep, in the sea, waving and calling;
- then plunged, then swam on my back, looking up
- as three black ships sighed in the shallow waves.
- Of course, I was younger then. And hoping for men. Now,
- let us baste that sizzling pig on the spit once again.
- Into the half-pound box of Moonlight
- my small hand crept.
- There was an electrifying rustle.
- There was a dark and glamorous scent.
- In my open, moist mouth
- the first Montelimar went.
- Down in the crinkly second layer,
- five finger-piglets snuffled
- among the Hazelnut Whirl,
- the Caramel Square,
- the Black Cherry and Almond Truffle.
- I chomped. I gorged.
- I stuffed my face,
- till only the Coffee Cream
- was left for the owner of the box —
- tough luck, Anne Pope —
- oh, and half an Orange Supreme.
Five Finger-Piglets. Peter Bailey; Brian Patten; Carol Ann Duffy; et al. London: Macmillan Children’s, (1999).
About the Poet
Carol Ann Duffy, (b. 1955) is a Scottish poet and playwright. Duffy received an honours degree in philosophy in 1977 from the University of Liverpool. She worked as poetry critic for The Guardian from 1988–1989, and was editor of the poetry magazine, Ambit. In 1996, she was appointed as a lecturer in poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, and later became creative director of its Writing School.
She is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at the Manchester Metropolitan University, and was appointed Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom in 2009. Duffy is the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly bisexual person to hold the position, as well as the first laureate to be chosen in the 21st century. Her poems address issues such as oppression, gender, and violence. [condensed from Wikipedia, DES-11/10]