Years ago, I wrote a long and rambling free verse poem that started “My mother makes sloe gin”. It was a runner up in a poetry competition, but despite the minor success, I was aware that it was rather flabby; I think I’ve been trying to force it into some kind of form for near on a decade.
That said, I had completely forgotten this version, which I think must have been written some time last year for a sonnet competition and abandoned when it wouldn’t conform to the formal constraints. Since the sloe trees are in full bloom this weekend, it seems a good time to post it:
The flat shores of the estuary spread wide
to merge with fields where placid cattle graze
unpenned as winter turns to spring, and days
lengthen. Above, through clear skies, swallows glide
and, filigreed and pale as any bridal
finery, the blackthorn froths like lace.
Summer brings green fruits to crowd the spaces
left as blossoms fade. The season slides
to russet autumn; plum-dark sloes are glossed
with yeast; we pick them after the first frost,
then follow grandma’s special recipe
– sugar, almonds, gin – shake well and leave
three months, then strain and wait. Next Christmas Eve
it will be drunk – and so, I fear, shall we.