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The Sugar Museum

A strange confection, sparked by my own diabetes, a piece on the “Antiques Roadshow” about the shadow-side of some 18th century silver and Frank Skinner’s reading of poem 8 from Donna Stonecipher's “The Model City" in his Poetry Podcast. Each of her poems in that collection apparently answers the question “What was it like?” but refers in one to a diversion to a "Sugar Museum",  so that's where I start...

What would it really be like
To visit a sugar museum?
Would it be a Wonka-world
Fantasy focussed firmly on
The sweet culinary creations 
That come from those white crystals?
Cakes and confections of all kinds,
Candyfloss and caramels, 
Sherbets and shortbread,
Fizzy drinks and frozen lollies,
Diverse desserts and Turkish delight,
Indeed, delights from every nation
Bringing joy to the tongue and heart 
Of the child in all of us.

Or would there also be
Piles of pitted baby teeth,
And fillings forged from
All manner of metal and ceramic,
Balancing the mounds of money
Made by many from this
Not so innocent addiction.
Blackened teeth they tell us
We’re once a sign of prosperity,
The proverbially conspicuous
Mark of literal consumption,
With elaborate sugar sculptures 
Nipped at by finely worked 
Hallmarked silver tongs.

Or what about including
some scarred and shackled 
black bodies to go with 
the blackened teeth?
Both, apparently, an acceptable 
price to pay for this little luxury.
An empire fuelled at first 
In part by sucrose and slavery,
Before its industrial revolution,
But reluctant to remember, 
Preferring to point the finger
At the manifest misdeeds
Of rebellious tobacco 
and cotton-growing colonials.

Or how about an entire room
Dedicated to diabetes?
Diverse disciplines devoted 
To addressing the effects
Of this preventable pandemic.
Endocrinologists, pharmacists, 
Opticians, cardiologists -
Gainfully employed if not paid for
By the sugar industry, with
Surgeons replumbing arteries
And removing toes and legs
Suitably blackened as
A testament to the wealth
If not the health of the nation.

Sweet...

Selah













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