The Red Cupboard
After Pierre Bonnard
The woman’s cupboard, she’s stocked
with jellies, chutneys, pickled limes
and bottles of blue-skinned plums
that just to look at is to taste
their sweet green flesh. Inset in the wall,
the inside’s painted the red of petals –
poppies, geraniums – of dream blood.
When she opens the white door
it’s like opening herself.
Among jars of quince and apple,
the red satin dress with a boned bodice
she wore as a girl; and multiplied behind,
down a long corridor of deepening reds,
the woman who each month either swelled
with a child, or felt the little burp
and bubble that began her flow.
And beyond, in black red fields,
her mother, and her grandmother,
and her grandmother’s mother –
a queue stretching back, back.
Some days, when she opens the door
on her riches, her gifts, her sumptuous store,
all that’s left
is the thick scent of blood.