‘Crates’ by Jo Bell


Observe that when I speak of crates
your mind provides one straight away.

Likely you are thinking of the fruiterer’s crate:
a shallow slatted box of rain-matted pine,
the archetype of apples stencilled on the side,
a cartouche slot above it for a grocer’s hand.

Your crate may be the sturdy plastic tub
of the eco-minded council, waiting at the gate
with all its rinsed tomato cans and, in this case,
a drowned frog.

Or then again the solid, beer-smoothed wood
hefted by the publican
with its hungover slump of bottles
to the sunny yard, the morning after.

Your crate, in fact, exists as soon as it is thought.
Its shape is shown in speaking of it.
Now, let us speak of love.
(published in the Fish Prize Anthology, 2010)
Listen to Jo Bell reading Crates here
Jo Bell is the former Director of National Poetry Day, Glastonbury Poet in Residence and is now the UK Canal Laureate, sponsored by the Poetry Society. Her collection Navigation is available here. Her work is widely published – most recently in Sidekick Books’ Birdbook 2: Freshwater Habitats.