What I Like About a Courgette

is not its phallic weight
rolling in my palm or cacti prickle
to its skin. No, what I like
is its slicing. There’s none
of the meanness you get with carrots,
who, once peeled, ask you to push
too hard with the knife, are never sorry
for their unpredictable skips
across a kitchen surface. A courgette
surrenders to the pressure with
just the right amount of give
beneath the blade. Incisions can be slow,
decisive and whether it’s flimsy discs
you want, ready for a garlicky pan
or thicker coins to be nudged
next to aubergine, the courgette will relinquish
a steady stack of slices on the board.
It is the most certain of vegetables,
firm, undemanding, polite.

Courgette

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The Escalator

I’m half way up when the stranger topples.
Her clumsy lack of balance becomes a heavy,

dangerous weight I cannot right. As her body
repels the force of dirty treads, my shoulders

block her petrified bulk. I grip the wide
rubber rail, feel it shudder, her black hair tangles

in my mouth. My other hand gropes her coat;
a very intimate struggle, the abyss behind us

getting deeper all the time. Those on the descent
look embarrassed as they glide down to trains,

until at last, the top, where I lever her upright,
let her go. She walks right into the street

without a thank you. I want to cry and behind me
commuters rise, straight as candles, from the dark.

________________

Escalator

Break

BreakI like to watch a smoker –
their claims on dank
public space just to stop
and inhale; their outdoor defiance,
their expelled clouds
on passers-by.
There’s something unkempt
about the one on the left.
Her hair, that hoody
she hides inside. Each suck
flashes the bird swooping
on her wrist, as she makes
that smokers bond; shares
secrets with a stranger
for the duration of a burn.
One last drag, then the hiss
in her polystyrene cup.