On the way home from school
you and Helen stopped

and looked in the window
of the pie and eel shop

where a man was cutting off heads
of live eels

and then slitting them open
and knifing out the guts

and then chopping them
up into small pieces

and Helen said
yuk what’s he doing

to those poor eels?
you were engrossed in watching

the man’s knife slit through
the necks so easy

that the pieces still wriggled
after he pushed them

into a bucket on the side
people eat them

you said
whether jellied

or in pies
with mash and liquor

Helen said

how could they?
People will eat anything

you replied
turning to gaze

at her horrified face
her eyes magnified

behind her thick lens spectacles
I read somewhere

that some people ate others
in the Leningrad siege

you added
she grabbed your hand

and squeezed it tight
they never did

you’re lying
she said

her eyes focused on you
and not the eels

or the man executing them
you saw her lower lip tremble

and said
ok they didn’t

you said softly
she looked back at the man

and the eels
and sighed

and you felt her warm flesh
and her small thumb

on the back of your hand
and although you knew

what had happened
you lied to protect her

from the truth
not wanting her innocence

undone by brutal humanity
and its wars

and you kept it
to your 9 year old self

a whole bundle of facts
like an unwanted wealth.


Terry Collett

Horsham, United Kingdom

  • Artist
  • Artwork Comments 2

Artwork Comments

  • uncleblack
  • Terry Collett
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