CWI March 2020 Winner


Ruth Taaffe


Panic in the aisles. Unmasked together in a queue

we breathe discretely in opposite directions

no eye contact, ashamed of this synchronised thinking.


Ridiculous whims in the baskets, beans for protein

chocolate for morale. The thought of weeks

without fruit pinpoints an island of claustrophobia


inside, a notion of scurvy voyages east

or west on some wooden clipper. If only they’d had

the Piña des Indes back then. ​The tin sits


plucked from the shelf, adopted pet in the mesh

stack of yellow halos on the label. We are foreign

to each other. They grow just metres away


in fields, attract hummingbirds and bats. Fierce thistles

becoming flesh, only pickable with thick gloves

then stacked on the back of pick-up trucks


but these would ferment too soon with a smell

brown as vinegar. I’m after something more robust,

some buoyancy aid we can cling to, a sun’s corona, life ring.