Blood Sugar

Sarah Wimbush

Dear Jenna. Even though I’m at that age where I’d rather forget birthdays, I was excited to receive Museum of Ice Cream as a gift from a friend who’d heard me mention it, you and I having been on that course together, where I realised that we have common ground on more than one subject, so I sat down to read it immediately because it was my birthday, and on your birthday you can do anything you like, well, almost anything that’s legal, like reading a book on a Saturday afternoon, even though you should be digging up weeds, or clearing out the fruit bowl, only to find myself instantly thrown by the missing dash in Ice Cream, and the fact that there was no picture of ice, or cream, or ice-cream on the cover, just half a satsuma with its exposed pith, and the more I thought about it, the more Ice Cream sounded like I SCREAM, but I carried on, because of the weird taste of any sweet-flavoured cream, iced or not, wanting to know how a seaside ‘treat’ could become an institution, hopeful that no one else had ever wondered about the weirdness too, and I read the collection twice, without breathing, from the first poem to the last simulation, each page melting between my fingers, not the kind of melt I’d experienced when my oldest friend disappeared before my eyes, and my heart split like the overripe orange I dropped on her cream carpet, that melt was different; me apologetic trying to dab it out, first unsuccessfully with a tissue, then scrubbing it with Persil on a scourer turning the stain brown, although by that point she didn’t care about the stain, or her overgrown garden, or her birthday – no, it was more the kind of melt you feel when you see a car shadowing a bike, or you can’t take your eyes off the single swaying elephant in a zoo, which reminds you of the 99 gripped in your hand as a child, you not knowing what to do with it, especially the flake, unable to throw it to the ground, not because it was a treat, or because the family lapped theirs up like whiskery old dogs, it was more the insidious sweetness of it, the slavering over your fist, the way it crawled down the stick of your arm, while minor planets dripped from your elbow onto the golden sand below in small black dots.