(Poem No.50 of my favourite short poems)
‘The Kitchen Drawer’ – Penelope Fitzgerald
THE KITCHEN DRAWER POEM
The nutcracker, the skewer, the knife,
are doomed to share this drawer for life.
You cannot pierce, the skewer says,
or cause the pain of in one place.
You cannot grind, you do not know,
says nutcracker, the pain of slow.
You don’t know what it is to slice.
to both of them the knife replies,
with pain so fine it is not pain
to part what cannot join again.
The skewer, nutcracker, and knife
are well adapted to their life.
They calculate efficiency
By what the others cannot be
and power by the pain they cause
and that is life in kitchen drawers.
By Penelope Fitzgerald
Printed in @London Review of Books’ – 3rd October, 2002.
Penelope Fitzgerald (1916 – 2000) was an English Booker Prize-winning novelist, poet, essayist and biographer. In 2008, The Times included her in a list of “the 50 greatest British writers since 1945”. In 2012, The Observer named her final novel, ‘The Blue Flower‘, one of “the ten best historical novels”. She also wrote a splendid biography of the Victorian artist Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones.