“You have to eat oatmeal or you’ll dry up. Anybody knows that.” ~ Kay Thompson, author of Eloise
I just had breakfast with these two poets.
Usually, I dine alone. Maybe it’s better that way. When I dine alone, clever poets don’t make me snort oatmeal out my nose.
We all have to make our sacrifices.
All along, I’ve been trying to show the relationship between food and writing. Rather than write over 400 posts on this blog, I should have just asked Galway Kinnell to recite this poem, which he wrote because a painter at a writers retreat felt sorry for him eating his oatmeal alone.
Galway was right. It is worse eating oatmeal with an imaginary friend.
Still, I feel sure I’m going to invite these guys over again.
by Galway Kinnell
McCann’s Irish Oatmeal with ground flax, orange blossom honey, soy milk, and fresh raspberries.
I eat oatmeal for breakfast.
I make it on the hot plate and put skimmed milk on it.
I eat it alone.
I am aware it is not good to eat oatmeal alone.
Its consistency is such that it is better for your mental health if somebody eats it with you.
That is why I often think up an imaginary companion to have breakfast with.
Possibly it is even worse to eat oatmeal with an imaginary companion.
Nevertheless, yesterday morning, I ate my oatmeal porridge, as he called it, with John Keats.
Keats said I was absolutely right to invite him:
due to its glutinous texture, gluey lumpishness, hint of slime, and unusual willingness to disintegrate, oatmeal should not be eaten alone.
He said that in his opinion, however, it is perfectly OK to eat it with an imaginary companion, and that he himself had enjoyed memorable porridges with Edmund Spenser and John Milton.
Even if eating oatmeal with an imaginary companion is not as wholesome as Keats claims, still, you can learn something from it.
(Rest is here.)
Yat-Yee Chong is today’s Poetry Friday hostess. Better RSVP if you’re bringing an imaginary companion.