Tin

(the can opener was invented 

forty-eight years after the tin can)

When you asked me for a love poem,

(another love poem) my thoughts

were immediately drawn to the early days

of the food canning industry –

all those strangely familiar trade-names from childhood:

Del MonteGreen GiantFray BentosHeinz.

I thought of Franklin and his poisoned men

drifting quietly northwest by north

towards the scooped shale of their graves

and I thought of the first tin of cling peaches

glowing on a dusty pantry shelf

like yet-to-be-discovered radium –

the very first tin of cling peaches

in the world, and for half a century

my fingers reaching out to it.


from Grain (Picador, 2009), © John Glenday 2009, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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33Tin

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