Curious Street by Bernard Briggs

Curious Street

The baker
said he’d sourced special flour; from a remote Mongolian plateau
hand milled using tortoiseshell querns and mixed
with Ancient Egyptian yeast and camel water. The loaves were not baked
but aged in sulphur caves, for flavour, deep under his shop.
He gave me some to taste; a small cube from the counter display.

It did taste exceptional; the best bread I’ve ever eaten.
I bought two loaves.

The butcher
showed me a strange dark purple meat, twitching on tall hooks.
Reared in a valley, high in the Welsh hills, he said it was like beef…but better
was fed a specially fermented grass, that almost cooked the flesh from the inside
before its slaughter by druids. They used hermaphroditic singing knives
forged from Celtic snail ore, honed with quartz and unicorn oil.

I took home a small steak; fried it gently in butter.
It melted in my mouth.

The greengrocer
lead me through the back of his shop, into the garden
showed me a small plot filled with snoring blue pumpkins, on beds of straw.
He cut one loose, much to its surprise; told me
keep it out of the sunlight until I got home, then
roast it whole, rubbed with badger garlic until its skin split.

Later, in my kitchen I ate the whole thing
scooping the rich flesh with blue fingers.

The fishmonger
showed me Kelpies swimming in a glass fronted tank
hooked a small one that looked similar to a lobster and smiling plunged
it screaming into a pan of boiling sea. He said they were caught
in deep water just off the Banffshire coast, using traps made from Urchin webs
that he couldn’t sell them alive, as he had his reputation to think of.

I enjoyed the Kelpie for my supper
between two slices of Mongolian bread.


Bernard Briggs is a poet living in Aberdeen, North East Scotland. Originally from the South Coast of England, he moved to Scotland in 2003. He has had three collection published; ‘Love Cry and Wonder Why (2007), ‘A Hatching of Ghosts’ (2011) and ‘Headlines’ (2013). This piece, ‘Curious Street’ was originally written as a special exercise for the Aberdeenshire based writers group ‘The Apothecary Sessions’ of which he is a member.

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