Hazel Smith: Fullers’ Walnut Cake

2 February 2001

People with sore memories
are getting fussed up
because they are letting
a war criminal into the country

and suddenly the need to talk about yourself has flared
though you hate confessionalism
and you do not really know what you think
or who you are
or what has happened to you

This is the unanswered question.
Do you affirm or deny?
My great grandfather was chief rabbi in Leeds
and my mother still says there aren’t Palestinians only Arabs

there were always aunts and uncles you were always supposed to be
ringing up, or seeing, or sending letters to
who were going to be mortally offended
and hangers on who came to my father’s funeral
still blocking me in my grief

you complained that relationships were supposed to mean something
but they didn’t see it that way
because everything hinged on hypocrisy
and anyway they wanted you to suffer like them

yet we all laughed like mad
when Carmel gave the cousins her own recipe
and pretended it was
the Fullers’ walnut cake they’d just been eating
and liked so much
because it wasn’t kosher and they never guessed

the same walnut cake with the frosty icing
you ate in the cafe in Manchester
every week as a treat after your violin lesson
and before you got on the train

where you read to pass the time
until the lights went out in the tunnel
and left you shaking in darkness

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