The Icing Hand….Happy Birthday Tony Harrison

April 30th…a poet is born. I wonder how Tony’s baker father celebrated the arrival of his son?  77 years ago Tony Harrison made his first, newborn sounds; did his mother know she had brought a new poet into the world? A man not afraid to state what many are thinking….especially around opposition to war and demands for social justice; poetry carries the words which cannot be said in any other way.

I came across this poem and was amazed….I suspect cake isn’t much more than a teatime snack for poets….and as for the cake icing?  Well, a glorious wedding cake deserves to be admired, but sugar icing may be used to create words which will melt away, within the mouth of the witness. The imagery is so simple…those sand castles of childhood which took the summer’s day to create; how easily they are washed away as the waves move up the shore…..a way to teach children that creations may not last forever, but their memory holds the warmth of the sun and the joy of a parent sharing minutes of childhood again.

Tony Harrison celebrates his father’s creativity, his skill at icing wedding cakes, and his philosophical attitude to their immediate destruction.


The Icing Hand by Tony Harrison

That they lasted only till the next high tide                                                                         bothered me, not him whose labour was to make                                                                   sugar lattices demolished when the bride,                                                                                 with help from her groom’s hot hand, first cut the cake.

His icing hand, gritty with sandgrains, guides                                                                               my pen when I try shaping memories of him                                                                             and his eyes scan with mine those rising tides                                                                   neither father nor his son could hope to swim.

His eyes stayed dry while I, the kid, would weep                                                                       to watch the castle that had taken us all day                                                                               to build and deck decay, one wave-surge sweep                                                                         our winkle-stuccoed edifice away.

Remembrance like ice cake crumbs in the throat,                                                   remembrance like windblown Blackpool brine                                                                   overfills the poems shallow moat                                                                                                   and first, ebbing, salts, then, flowing, floods this line.





This entry was posted in Food & Drink, Life, Memories, Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Icing Hand….Happy Birthday Tony Harrison

  1. Tweezerman says:

    A great piece of writing here…. pleasure to read. Thanks for sharing.

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