WHAT WE ALL SAY
by Irene Sherlock
There’s nothing to eat, my daughter says, standing in front of the refrigerator, motioning at the bag of carrots, three red apples. She means pork chops, mashed potatoes, food I made before the diet, the divorce, before I turned thin. People smile, congratulate. You look wonderful. They seem relieved, as though my heavier self was somehow a burden to them. How did you do it? As if I’ve broken world records. I tell them thin is lots of water, no butter, endless exercise, bowls of clear soup. Day in, day out, except for occasional graham crackers, thin is never sweet. They shake their heads, Ten years younger, not knowing most nights I go hungry, except last night, at a friend’s house, after Chardonnay and wontons filled with artichokes and crab, after rosemary biscuits, herbed chicken stuffed with prosciutto, sautéed in shallots and cognac. After all the love had been laid on the table, I felt my old self emerging — the woman who loves chocolate, who looks her age and surprises her daughter with blueberry pie. Her mouth watered as mine does now. Mmmm, I said, and began to eat and eat as though, now, I can never be filled.
*Posted with permission of the author, copyright © 2012 Irene Sherlock. First published in Alimentum: The Literature of Food (Winter 2012). All rights reserved.
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Certainly, food is love. Most of us love to eat. We cook for our loved ones, comfort and love ourselves with our favorite treats, even fantasize about foods we’ve yet to meet.
Like all relationships, it’s complicated. Eating is an emotional act steeped in joy, peppered with guilt.
Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this relationship with food is more complicated for women than it is for men. What of that constant pressure to look a certain way?
You can never be too rich or too thin.
One moment on the lips, forever on the hips.
The beauty of this poem is that I think we can all see parts of ourselves in it. I can relate to the narrator in a backwards sort of way. Instead of being complimented for being thinner, these days I receive little looks of surprise because there’s a bit more of me to love. I’m sometimes the friend who likes to lay love out on the table, and as far as praising someone for losing weight? Guilty as charged.
While savoring the casual, conversational lines of this poem, I carefully weigh their bittersweet subtext. We are what we eat, mourn what we cannot. How to satisfy one’s emotional hunger?
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The always lovely, warm and welcoming Linda Baie is hosting today’s Roundup at TeacherDance. Peruse the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week and enjoy. The beauty of words is that you can feast, calorie free, to your heart’s content!
Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.