Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
Steve Whitaker
Literary Editor
1:22 AM 17th May 2020

Poem Of The Week: 'Treat' By Thirza Clout

Thirza Clout
Thirza Clout

When dad thickly buttered
a slice of white bread, spooned

on sugar, tipped it to and fro
over the china bowl

he showered down so much love
it snowed across the cloth.

I licked my first finger, pressed down
to stick grains, licked again.

In our house love came granulated
never enough to be wasted.

Here’s a poet who constructs the living room of a life from the barest of furniture. Thirza Clout’s brief but focused observation bespeaks an act of love which is given definition, not so much in direct protestation, but rather in practical dispensation, in sharing.

Clout’s simple, self-contained couplets are given easy continuity in persuasive half-rhyme, as though the embodiment of ritual was somehow contained in the insouciant scattering of sugar. We learn, also, of context, of a post war working-class family for whom ‘sugar bread’, as we used to call it, would be a treat.

But most, we see the father figure expressing familial love where he cannot articulate his gratitude for the gift he has been given, where words, in the miraculous warmth of shared austerity, are few.

‘Treat’ is taken from Aunts Come Armed With Welsh Cakes and is published by smith ǀ doorstop.

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