Great Uncle Reg
Who are you but the bloke who locked my father
in the butcher’s freezer for a giggle,
let him out mid-morning, when it got busy,
stood him on a box to serve and shiver?
Who are you but the bloke who dodged a World War
call-up to work down the colliery
for oh, a day, to mummify your knees
with every bandage in the street, to pull
the wool or lose a lamb or two to those
who mattered? You spent those years reaching across
a counter, shaking hands that crossed your palm
with silver, winked and kept things off the coupon,
bulked out the sausage and brought home the bacon.
You with the famous patter, infamous
scales, your title of the finest butcher
in Wales, your special touches, your lady friend
among the judges. Now, great uncle Reg,
you’re quiet in south coast retirement,
but when I think of you, I think of you
mid-morning, in the doorway of your shop,
looking up and down a street that’s buzzing
and all yours. For there is not a market
you didn’t corner, a corner you didn’t cut.
You’re grinning, look. Your apron’s stained with blood.
Jonathan Edwards‘s first collection, My Family and Other Superheroes (Seren) won the Costa Poetry Award and the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice Award. It was shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize.