At the poetry event in Linlithgow, I fell into conversation with a woman afterwards. She told me about how she used to work in a newsagent. Every week at the same time, a woman would enter the shop and buy a single packet of blancmange. She did this for years and never bought anything else. I thought this was an intriguing story, and the woman I was speaking to told me I should write a poem about it.
Well, it’s Sonnet Sunday, and I had to write a sonnet about something… Of course, my imaginary account of the shop and staff is entirely fictional.
Each Saturday she braved the village store
to buy a packet of blancmange. The aisles
were narrow, prices high. She could ignore
the hygiene of the staff, their filthy nails
and noses running through the cold meat section,
but not their lack of welcome after years
of patronage. She timed death to perfection,
collapsing in the eyes of the cashiers.
Some had thought her crazy. Others spoke
as if they’d never known her. Later, when
the council came to clear her house, it took
an inventory. Nothing much had been
kept over time, but cupboards bore the weight
of decades, unopened, and out-of-date.