Winkles and Whelks
Another Scottish Husband poem….does it end too abruptly?
Winkles and & Whelks
My Sunday impression is marine gastropod mollusks,
heaped and slippery in a dish on the bar with sea snails
and pickled things: onions and gherkins. A piccalilli
sun creating shapes and shadows, bouncing beams
off brass and etched glass, and bottles and bottles.
A barman with a comb-over welcome, white-toweling
a smile as he half-pours a pint, damp smell of hops
and barrel. My Scottish husband drinks an ale called
Long Life. I mis-order apple cider, fooled by the idea
of fruit, glass of yellow-gold fizzing with fermentation.
Public houses have a long tradition, standing on almost
every corner for wayfarers, a gathering place for the
neighborhood. A gumless character on a low stool
is already singing. Percy, Percy, the other patrons clap
along. Everyone subscribes to the service of roast
beef, already juicing at home or waiting to be slid in.
These are his people, he says. I need to understand.
Winkles and whelks are a strange apperitif, but they,n
too, have a history here, belong to a time when cart
vendors waited for closing to sell their wharf wares.
We're all characters here, with a story, our own dialect,
my flat vowels ordering another. This round on me.