For Tom Shakespeare
It would have been in the galley kitchen
at the top of stairs and when, with our fingers
drenched with onion, we crammed docked leaves
and other detritus between folded newspaper pages,
that we cracked a recipe we’d use again and again:
the patent lentil dahl with whipcrack chillies.
If we were chefs, that would be our signature.
If food were a soundtrack to friendship,
that would be our ‘Eat Yourself Fitter’.
We lived on it for years, way beyond
those brief times of necessity and desire
when weekly essays had us up all hours
and we’d be out of the library and into the market
where vegetables looked like trophies
and bulbs of garlic hung like chandeliers.
There was never any recipe. We made things up –
and we still do – improvising with what we’ve got
to hand while the regimented cookbooks sit idle
on the shelves. There was never any plan.
We’d be hungry and that was it: onions,
garlic, chilli and our reading list –