Friend, you know what I hunger for.
Sometimes I forget my own nature and,
distracted by the mundane, begin to
waste away, a poet starved for poems,
knowing my own needs so little well I settle
for empty calories, for tastelessness, for
tabloid fare and the griminess of newsprint.
You, on the other hand, seem to know
something about my hunger that I don’t.
And one day, quite out of the blue, you
give me a copy of Jane Kenyon’s Otherwise,
choosing this feast from the largess of your
larder, the well-stocked pantry of your life.
Faint, disoriented in my starvation, I hold
the book limply in my hands and wander
away, dazed, uncomprehending, until I
collapse, and the book falls open before me.
I sniff the pages. I take a bite. I did not realize
how hungry I was until the first taste of poems
passes my lips and floods my bloodstream. But
oh how I gobble the poems then! Ravenous for
their sensuous images, I roll, I loll these poems
on my tongue like chocolate ice cream. I gorge my too-often-neglected desire for the sweet—observed—images of ordinary life. I savor the richness of poem-moments that cling to the roof of my mouth like spoonsful of peanut butter, stick to my ribs like mom’s chili, put meat on the bones of my life, plaster up the hollows of my empty places.
Thank God there is no one here to watch.
I am shameless, scouring the plate,
licking my fingertips
to dab up the last crumbs.
Afterwards, I say grace.
And write a poem.
Ann L. Keiffer