Eleanor Margolies – Before you eat your porridge,

Before you eat your porridge,

Before you eat your porridge,
while you have your coffee,
pretend the kitchen is a coffee shop.
Say to yourself: I like the way
they’ve put plants on the window sill
and the heap of papers,
full of seasonal self-improvement.
Think how much you could save:
drink coffee at home, bring sandwiches
to work, and best of all, eat porridge instead.
They don’t sing about ‘the life you can save’.
They don’t ask: wouldn’t you rescue
someone drowning in a pond
in front of you? What’s the difference?
It would be other sections that describe
January in Sierra Leone, the rains just finished,
green everywhere, sweat
running into the doctors’ eyes
behind Perspex visors.
A twelve-year-old girl who died
was dry and hot and cachectic:
‘a condition of the body in which
nutrition is everywhere defective’.
I might wish they kept this place a little warmer,
but it has a view: the corner of the street,
my neighbours waiting for the bus.
A little girl practises ballet steps.
And now the police. A man with hands cuffed.
Two men come out to see what’s going on.
They all stand by the wall a long time,
talking. From here it looks idle
but it could be life and death. They wait.
By this time next year, the view will be gone,
a new building will hide the street corner.
I tell myself the view will be different.

Eleanor Margolies lives and works in London, and is currently working on a book about props in theatre.’

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