My Grandmother Tells Me About a Famine

By Annie Fan

it was july. no / june. there were no
/ no children, my hands / you
wouldn’t know how to
/ boil bark &
live. the deadness of mud, how
the earth could spit you out
/ alone;
& so / britain. we drive to the shops, my body
that has never hungered, / hers shortened
by need over want & made harsh
by these sodium lights / city / petroleum
fuel / air. i can’t / see the trees or easypeel
oranges, veal, unfiltered, cold-pressed
oil my mother likes, to buy & fill
our plastic bags & better, more
for the foodbank
; that sunday, she tells
me about shame & food & unlocks trussell trust
leaflets from the church office behind
the folding divider, & the pastor begins
/ — won’t live // by bread alone / Οὐκ ἐπ’
// ἄρτῳ μόνῳ
/ & then it’s june. i touch
the trunk of every tree, precisely, like
the back of my grandmother’s hands.
i don’t know how / there are still / birds /
locks on bins at the supermarket, / poverty
premium / austerity / hunger / & far away
the bark keeps growing / & we drive
to the shops on sunday again / & again.


"My Grandmother Tells Me About a Famine" first appeared in Annie Fan’s pamphlet Woundsong published by VERVE Poetry Press, 2021.