“Summit Negotiations” by Stephen Kingsnorth

At the cake bazaar,
annual in the village hall –
Mrs Baker’s acid voice –
I stall to scan those sweetmeat plates.

The granulated cog biscuits,
as if surfaced breeze-swept snow,
fawn-mellow, flat,
centre-nippled, cherry-topped;
the scarlet shine thieves the eye,
stirs amylase from frenulum
to a painful point.

Without word, a finger point
tells Busty Baker what I want.
Only one? threat by voice and more,
clear accusatory tone,
insult when a dozen more,
pique, that her mountain not
scaled for more.

But base camp built of my cookie choice –
the tawny tone hints more mature –
Sherpa Baker stares, ice-pick tongs,
a moment carabiner caught,
feathered felt now helmet,
crampons, impasse,
first to withdraw?

Though Baker’s pride, my will-battle wins,
crevasse spanned with frost-bite grace,
wool wrapped cleavage to the fore,
she crevices her finger nails,
palming the peak, protect
from avalanche, and
bitter-sweet presents, almost
on bended knee,
my ruby ring.

Originally published by Sparks of Calliope, December 2019

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English and Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church with Parkinson’s Disease, has had pieces published by on-line poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies. He maintains a PoetryKingsnorth blog.

Photo by Ashleigh Shea on Unsplash

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