2 Poems by Jennifer Anne Champion

Breadcrumbs in Muswell Hill, 2014
For Ben, Ruben, Victoria and Schmatterling Girl.

The pigeon chested boy and the girl with the invisible pigtails are coming home to dinner with you.
Because you have cats, you become the huntsman. The children come from an oven much further away but because they follow you with a glint in their eyes to grind, they remind you of your own kids.

Everyone here tonight has lost their baby teeth.

So no questions of parents: dead, absent, imaginary, still poking around in the kitchen, kneading peace on an empty stomach.

You are kindness itself.
But the old joke is: no matter how kind you are, German children are kinder.

We walk through the woods, collecting sticks of things we don’t have back home. Oak. Hawthorne. Ash.

Because we are coming home and you’re making dinner. Outside, your sculptures lie white in the darkening bushes.

They’re made from wood you’ve found in dumpsters. Orphaned wood. It couldn’t get more fairytale than that.

And I say, you are kindness itself,
not a man chewed up from the inside, shelving selves between sidewalk cracks.

We are the mortar we leave behind. The teeth
and grit that make the pavement and over time crumbling into nothing.

You are kindness itself, because you are here
and we won’t be forgetting that, or waiting for the children to come home

saving the few strays we can in the mean time.

Dining Table

A clear dining table announces,
Someone is coming over.
A visitor, with a home whose cleanliness
Standards we cannot determine.
But for whom we make certain
Chances are not taken.
It is a safe bet that the traveller
Is always hungry, but not so
The Math tutor, for he knows how to calculate.
Is here to teach,
Not eat us out of house and home.
So the newly washed grapes in the bowl say:
This is not someone we pay then.
Someone we flatter.
Someone who fawns over my mother, says,
Yes you are doing well.
Quite well. Quite quite well Indeed.
She who catches me by the wrist
With thumb and forefinger, I,
a spider in the nursery,
she clucks: Quite thin. Quite thin.
How do you get children to eat well?
Saintly woman with your tape measure digits,
You only fidget back when asked your age.

Jennifer Anne Champion is a performance poet and writer. She co-founded poetry.sg, an online archive for poetry from Singapore. Her first poetry collection A History of Clocks was printed by Redwheelbarrow Press in 2015. Her second collection Caterwaul is forthcoming and will be released end of 2016.