In my dream-space I pick up a garden fork 
and driving steel through compacted soil
I find that among the worms and sharp stones 
I am excavating something that looks familiar.

Fragments rise from the dirt, shape themselves
into cups and saucers, a floral jug, a sugar bowl.
Intact again, each piece takes its place on starched linen, 
fine drawn-thread work laid over red chenille.

A photographer ducks under his black cloth, 
his subjects posing, stiff beside their tableware.
Behind them stands the housemaid, my grandmother,
sent into service aged eleven, and now about to speak.

She tells me only that this house is a lonely place
and that she has been taught a few words of French 
in case they should be required: le lait, the milk; 
le pain, the bread; le sel, the salt, la bonne, the maid.

About the Author

Imogen Forster returned to writing poems a few years ago, after a long interval, much of which she spent working as a translator  from French, Spanish and Italian. She has an MA in Writing Poetry from Newcastle University, and expects to publish a pamphlet in 2021. She lives in Edinburgh, and longs to be able both to travel outside the city again and to attend live poetry events.