I dreamed I was in England
where the old ways are still in force
and hearing the street cry Porridge!
my wife sent me running out
to fetch her some.
In bright sunshine I sprinted
to the van, where keen porridge patrons
stood watching the kitchen-hands
fulfilling their orders,
stirring great wooden spoons
through the lumpy grey mush.
I knew to buy orange juice as well
and strained to focus on the price list.
This, as happens in dreams, stayed hazy,
but one orange, one porridge¹
seemed a safe request.
My glum assistant leaned my way,
muttering Only one orange?
It¹s the glucose makes our only profits.¹
I dropped my eyes, pondering
their primitive juice-making.
Sugariness pervaded my mouth.
It was my duty to spend at the van,
so pitiable was their business.
Two oranges,¹ I complied.
Meanwhile the whole enterprise
of porridge-making displayed itself:
large squares of old dirty carpet
were being shredded into aluminium
pots and soaked and quickly cooked.
The grainy texture of carpet spiralled
into oatmeal under the stirring spoons,
tilted boldly in their brawny arms,
and folded into the take-away containers.
I did not reach for my money,
I avoided my assistant¹s eye,
I wondered at the cheery regulars:
the English were constant in their
old preferences. Carpet porridge vans
forever would send their street-cries
through the suburbs. Respectful
Anglophile though I¹d always be,
oatmeal and orange juice was not for me.
Max Richards at Cooee, Melbourne