Friday Poem – ‘Cream teas, Sunday’, Katherine Stansfield

This week our Friday Poem is Katherine Stansfield’s ‘Cream teas, Sunday’, from Playing House.

playing house katherine stansfield‘Cream teas, Sunday’ is a sickly-sweet vision of chaos in the pursuit of a cream tea. ‘Stampedes’ of customers interrupt the calm sophistication of a tea room, laying waste to the food and finery with not so much as a 50p tip on the way out.
Playing House is full of delightfully witty poems such as this, which present an unsettling view of the domestic; the author’s eye is satirical yet sympathetic, the voice distinctive.
‘Striking imagery, strange leaps of thought, wit and menace aside, the unmistakeable thrill of Katherine Stansfield’s poetry is in the voice. It addresses the world directly, takes it personally, and comes at the reader from constantly unexpected angles, a tangible, physical thing.’ Philip Gross


Cream teas, Sunday

The four o’clock rush stampedes in at three
to besiege us, heathens sweating scones
for Sunday’s sore visitor gods. Raging and raw
we keep out cats, flies, the customers
still crash right through with sugar in their eyes.
Quick – lay your hands on the cream
to banish mould and I’ll speak in tongues
of jam. Hell opens to burn the slovenly
and pour forth fruitcake and smoke.
I weep into my apron.There’s no change
or tips.Tea cosies drown in Lapsang floods,
exhausted pots shatter and teaspoons bolt,
menus make for the door and coffee jars
revolt.You spread the charm like soft butter
on a split and I’ll give sticky grace on not quite
clean plates.Will that appease them?
Our fake accents turn with the milk
come six. Prayers pass in a kettle’s pant,
returning to water and air: tomorrow
please rain, please rain, please rain.


Playing House is available from the Seren website: £9.99
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