(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 Monte, Green Giant, Fray Bentos, Heinz.
I thought of Franklin and his poisoned mean
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.