Jude Goodwin, Canadian Poet

Jude Goodwin

She uses the personal to translate the universal.

The Chewer

The Chewer

"You deliberately eat that
to bother me." Suddenly cruel
I sit accused,
one apple half gone in my hand,
one poisonous piece
still resting against my teeth.
In the kitchen glass
I can see myself perched
gargoyl-like, I don't recognize the shadow
of my hunch. I take the next bite
quietly, use my tongue to press
each macintosh cell to mush,
suck and roll
and push it down,
my throat half closed, unwilling.
Stubborn tube. I give up,
set the fruit on a plate.
Let the fruit flies have it
I say. Let the fruit flies
take silent bites, land and lift
and land. Let the plate
be a silent tongue.


As with all my favourite poems, this says little and speaks volumes. Through the poet’s painfully clear description of a single incident, I was given a picture of a whole relationship, a lesson in the depths of feeling that lie behind silence. The profound impact of the opening statement on the speaker is there in the litany of ugly adjectives with which she describes her – I decided it was ‘her’ – reaction: the apple is “poisonous” (Snow White, anyone?), the piece in her mouth is a “slug”, her shadow perches “gargoyle-like”, unrecognisable even to herself. The lines on her struggle to swallow the apple noiselessly are masterful, full of sticky, clogging half-rhymes –"mush”, “suck”, “push” – and the lack of punctuation makes it impossible for us to tell whether it is her throat that’s “half closed, unwilling”, or she herself. In contrast with the oppressive silence of the first section of the poem, the final declarative lines sing out freely, with great power. The plate and the flies may be silent but, it seems, she’s no longer going to be. Wonderful stuff.  Sarah Crown, September 2005

IBPC New Poetry Voices
First Place, September 2005

In Winter

In Winter

Wax Paper

Wax Paper