Poetry London Prize 2020: Highly Commended

Mel Pryor

Evening Scene

Into a lamb and apricot casserole
I am stirring my brother’s rage.

I must do this for him because I am in his apartment 
and he is dead.

Under his direction three of his shadow selves line up 
and boss me about. They tell me less coriander,
more salt, more port, more port.

They tell me even in death his desires are intemperate.
The indulgence of base passions has benumbed
the fine sensibilities they whisper savagely.

In the garden it is almost summer again. Blue sky. 
And I am rinsing rice, chopping broccoli,
a few frail apricots.

Above a pan hot air twists and kinks and
I lean over the hob and put my face into the heat 
as far as I can tolerate.

The song of boiling water is strangely comforting. 

Inside the oven cupcakes swell in grandiose endeavours.

Last night, when my brother came to me in my dream
he was both his hostile self and his gentle self
at the same time.

I spoke, first quietly, then forcefully. 

Neither of him could hear me.