Daily Matins — a liturgical breakfast poem


I’m not much of a poet, but I thought it would be fun to share one of the poems I wrote in my UoL Creative Writing class last year.

This particular poem was written to copy the meter, style and type of imagery within Seamus Heaney’s Mossbawn Sunlight, a 1975 poem from a collection that won Heaney the Nobel Prize for literature. No pressure, right?

The limitations were:

  • that it should have something to do with cooking
  • have stanzas with only four lines
  • have lines between five and seven beats long.

In the same way that Heaney used his description of his aged mother making scones as a meditation on modernity versions tradition and getting older, I’ve tried to make a comparison with the simple act of making breakfast with the attempt to start my day with a disciplined routine. I make the same breakfast almost every day, unless I’m making something fancier for the entire family. When it’s just me, it’s always the same–one cup of coffee, two fried eggs, three slices of bacon.

Image source: http://itaintoveratforty.com/lose-weight-fast-on-the-paleo-diet/

Daily Matins

Darkness gives way to the light,
the skillet slowly sputters;
for a moment I drift back
into unconsciousness

My eyes explode open and
see snippets of smoke ascend —
incense has little appeal
compared to sizzling bacon

Like a vicar who prepares
sacramental oblations,
I measure, grind, and decant
coffee in the crucible

I pour one measure of scalded
water on fragrant grounds
and then another, seeking
transubstantiation

With tongs I take the bacon
out before it gets too crisp
and crack two eggs in the pan
with yolks that blaze bright orange

and who look up as though eyes
to the stars of heaven.
I flip them too soon,
and the yolk from one spills out

like the sins of fallen man.
As vigils go, it’s not the
lauded way to break my fast,
pious men eat gruel,

but sweet things confound my gut,
for the first bite is heaven–
the next hour, alas, is
purgatorial

The first dozen times
I ate this meal, I said,
“royalty must feast as this”,
but after the hundredth time

it’s variety I crave,
even gruel! But this is
the only vigil I can keep,
the metronome of my day

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