The Gift by Matt Barnard



Matt Barnard is a poet and writer. His first full collection, Anatomy of a Whale, was published by The Onslaught Press and and he edited the anthology Poems for the NHS, to mark the NHS’s 70 year anniversary. He has won and been placed in competitions including The Poetry Society’s Hamish Canham Prize, the Bridport Prize, the Ink Tears short story competition and the Bristol Short Story Prize, and his work has appeared a number of anthologies and magazines. Anatomy of a Whale can be bought direct from the publisher The Onslaught Press, and is also available at (which supports local bookshops), Amazon and Foyles.























The Gift








Why? We don’t know you, though we hear

the rapid knocking of your voice through the wall,


and see you walking silently up the High Road

ushering a gaggle of grandchildren before you,


Maharani on an elephant swaying through the jungle.

Sometimes, you even raise an enigmatic smile,


then carry on, your tumeric yellow sari swinging

beneath a three-quarter-length grey raincoat.


And then, one day, for no reason, a guttural eh eh eh

and your hand over the trellis with a margarine tub


and a warm plastic bag. This first, then more,

white grub-shaped things, sweetmeats, grey-green sauces


that taste hot-cold, sweet-sour, spicy-dry, so many

tastes outside the language of our mouths. Now


to explain this: our reciprocation, banana-bread

taken with a look of utter, utter bewilderment. 



Matt Barnard