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Paul Stephenson

The Misoscopist

I prefer to stay home and avoid beauty. I like to order in. Japanese food most nights. Boy or girl, I never look the delivery person in the eye in case their eyes are amazing. I eat miso soup. Or should I say drink? Miso soup most days. Mondays miso, Tuesdays miso … and that’s my week. When I stir it the tiny particles of soya look like the universe. A hot, cloudy, white-speckled universe. I drink down the stars. But it’s the little cubes of tofu that really do it for me, the way they bobble and swirl like planets moving fast around a sun. And I don’t need a telescope, only my tongue.

I never go out between meals in case it’s Spring and the trees are in bud. The cherry blossom in Kyoto would kill me. I’m always on the lookout for new places to order from, but when I’m not sat waiting for home delivery, I try to read, tell myself to spend more time reading. I read about the history of miso, gender theories on miso, the rituals of miso-making, rainy-day things to do with miso. I don’t agree with the latest thinking, the way miso has been re-imagined. Ask me what I think and I’m unlikely to tell you. Unless, like me, you’ve a taste for distaste and a penchant for being reclusive. No, I’m not fussed about all the salt and … sorry, I’d better get that, it’s the door.

Paul Stephenson’s first collection, Hard Drive is published by Carcanet. He has published three pamphlets: Those People (Smith/Doorstop, 2015), The Days that Followed Paris (HappenStance, 2016) and Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press, 2017). Paul co-curates Poetry in Aldeburgh and lives between Cambridge and Brussels.

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