Anatomy of a Fork

I loved my great Aunt Rosie’s forks.

Age showed on them in the same way it did on the elderly. They were rickety at the top, where the forked bit met the handle, and a little rusty too. But they were very smooth, worn down almost. To the touch they felt much like an infant’s skin: tender, polished, still ripe. Each finger gripping and grappling, ready to pierce and grasp and make bleed.

The interesting thing about them is that they had three tines, rather than the usual four. Opposed to two women, feet apart, legs long, each was rather a man; disproportionate, legs short and stubby, with barren gaps rather than neat slots. The forks’ legs had long been bent and flattened and battered and abused by decades of gurning teeth, insatiate mouthfuls gasping for more.

What use is a body once it’s deteriorated, you might ask. I would agree, we do not like corpses, carcasses and cadavers. The body is beautiful in its prime, when bellies are taut and legs are firm and sweat looks less like lard, more like gloss – sumptuous, inviting, post-coital.

They were white once. Pure. Virginal, like a new moon with a pearl concealed right at the bottom. Now their tone was nearer the flesh of someone ill. Pasty cream and cracked along the handle. Roses the colour of drying blood still bulged on them lightly, budding off their green, veined stems. With edges frayed like stretch-marks forking along a distended body, they now held the semblance of a parturient woman.

It’s the stories that came with Aunt Rosie’s forks which beguiled me the most. I could feel them slurring onto my dinner with every bite I picked at, flirting with the taste-buds of my mind’s alley-ways. These forks had seen more of life than I had, more of death even. Each atom of their refined, silver bodies was lined with the echo of elite banquets and succulent luncheons. They resounded a fairer time when our servants would not just make us our dinner but, occasionally, become it.

The slow fall and eventual shunning of this tradition devoured nearly all memories of it. All that remains is a regurgitated speculation:

“Your great Aunt Rosie used to say it tasted like roast pork.” A scorched and crisp shell encasing the moist, tender flesh.

They took me back to a time when they were regarded as utensils of divine indulgence. Now they’re packed away, a set of stained forks, frigid and forgotten.

January 2017

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