Emily Berry is a veteran LRB
contributor (you may know her as Poppy Tartt) and one of the main co-writers of The Breakfast Bible.
She is also an Eric Gregory award-winning poet whose work was described by The Guardian as "a host of surreally imagined everyday scenes in which speakers and characters, by turns emotionally, intellectually and physically compromised, perform accepted, expected and imagined roles". Like all good literature, it sometimes mentions breakfast.
We are pleased to share this, the opening poem from her recently-published first collection Dear Boy
Our Love Could Spoil Dinner
We always breakfast with the biographer.
On day one I showed him my grapefruit spoon;
it has a serrated edge. My father gave him
a Mont Blanc fountain pen as a welcome gift,
but I think he was more impressed by the spoon.
‘It’s almost like a knife!’ he said. The biographer
is a coffee nut and I use this fact to bond with him.
‘Oh, Robusta,’ I say dramatically when I know
he’s listening. ‘You inferior bean.’ When we pass
in the hall I fling my arm back and say things like:
‘Am I strung out or what!’ and ‘Time for another
caffeine fix, methinks!’ I am not allowed coffee
because of my nerves, but the biographer doesn’t
know this. Sometimes we sit up in bed comparing
moans. Mine are always loudest. The biographer’s
are hampered by his boarding-school education
and the British flair for embarrassment. Sometimes
the publishers call. When he gets on the phone,
he sweats; afterwards the right side of his face is damp.
I like to monitor these subtle changes. Last night
my father found us touching legs. ‘Go to your room!’
he shouted. ‘You shabby daughter.’ ‘You worthless
excuse for a story,’ the biographer added. They played
cards to settle a debt. That day my mouth felt wetter
than usual. I asked the biographer to check. He used
his tongue. ‘This may affect the results,’ he said.
Dear Boy is published by Faber. Buy it here.