Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Trader's Wife

I had been baking the plain flat breads since dawn so when the chance came I was out of the door like a spark from the range. The versatility of the cook was being pushed for the meeting of the guild elders this evening and she was too harassed to tear herself away from the preparation of lamb with pumpkin and lentil stuffing, sugar coated biscuits and marchpane to bother with the market today so she gave her blessing for me to go in her place. I was to be trusted. My goal was a rope of whole roasted garlics and more capsicum for the trout mouse, but I desired nothing more than freedom from the chaos of that frenetic steaming world of chopping, cubing, dicing mincing and grinding. I was to be free, for now at least.
As I run to the market I taste the iron tang of the butchers work in the air along with all the fruit and spice and marsh salt on the breeze. I feel the kiss of it on my skin, feel the honey-warm cocoon of the sun and her tracery of light on the Estuary waters. I lean on the warmed oak posts of the covered market, my face in the shade, drinking in the strangeness of it all. I take my time finding my bearings, watching the division of players and audience, all rehearsing their parts on the stage in front of me: aproned butchers men sharpening knives, the barber surgeon equally bloodied, grain merchants checking their scales and bakers knocking excess flour from the base of their loaves while dumpling shaped matrons and gnarled old men stand waiting for their cue along side beribboned maidens with lace hankies hoping to hear their spring-mincing Beau's spout poetry and perfumed words to make their hearts and fans flutter.The cumulus of people flow around the market in a worn groove of harmonies and misunderstandings, a sea of emotion. The independent sellers, versatile in their patter, adjust their prices up and down, negotiating the play of satisfactory deals depending on their audience.
I see her then, the trader's wife, pretty as a peach. She alone is the reason all women are referred to as the fairer sex. She is sacrificing blood oranges with a blunt knife. This is a far better end for the spoiled fruit, than having it go to the pigs. Gelatine and sugar will be added to the liquor and boiled down to make the finest delicacy, crystalised rose adding its gentle suggestion to the jelly at the last moment, food to touch the lips of gods and lovers.
She raises the cloudy pulp in a muslin bag allowing crystal dew drips to be released. The sun shows her silhouette to great advantage and my pulse runs in anticipation of tasting such a delicacy. The scent of the heady citrus is bringing her to the brink of intense happiness and for a moment I am lost in the dimple forming and reforming on the edge of her smile as she sucks the spilled juice from her finger. If I could make a wish I would be the orange in her hand to bring her such pleasure. I would be the oil on her skin so she would have need to kiss me away again and again. She would be my moon's compass. I could catapult to the night sky on the Cupid bow of her lips and bring her a blanket of stars. I would write her sweet poetry of flowering fruit and blue elephants under the moonlight and touch the cordial notes between us. The melted chocolate on our tongues as we kiss would be the only bitterness between us. Together we would understand all the divine secret truths of love.

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan

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