I think she woke to wonder every morning,
even when she was already a ghost.

Sat at her typewriter and leaped gracefully over the aching hollowness
lingered delicately
(as fruits chilled all day on ice, served up with kirsch)
on the sweet moments,
the world quietly disappearing around her.

Fascists wander through the pages,
all smiles. Communists and beautiful Jewish girls
trying to forget and remember the starving pain
of imprisoned loved ones, being served strange meals
on old ships
by old stewards.

Champagne and caviar and the slow, voluptuous
always voluptuous, ever so voluptuous
pleasure of discovering that despite what men tell you,
you, as a woman, have the right to ask for
and receive
just what you want.

Love, she reminds us,
without ever telling us,
is complicated. People move about.
We hurt one another.
We break the rules.

We feed our strange hungers and our healthy ones,
and the alcohol in our blood and the strong or subtle flavors
are meant to be enjoyed,
and we are meant to enjoy each other,
and we are meant to enjoy ourselves.

I think that my gratitude would matter to her,
if she could ever have known
the things she taught me.

(For M.F.K. Fisher)


  1. This is a beautiful poem. I’d say one of my favorites, of yours.

    The hunger / food imagery is striking and vivid. It feels cliche to write that, but I think it’s true. You capture what I feel when I read books about people who have lived with hunger, and when I talk to my grandma, who has lived with it. It is the first time I’ve seen someone write about delicious, gourmet food in conjunction with hunger, and I really, really like that juxtaposition. I know very little of MFK Fisher, so maybe others have made this comparison before.

    I really like all of the third stanza. I am surprised by the choice of “voluptuous” in the fourth, and yet I think it works. Associating voluptuousness with a woman’s self-assertion is a powerful image, even though semantically it feels like “intoxicating, dizzying” are better choices to associate with “pleasure.” But I’m hard-pressed to find one of those words that repeats as well as “voluptuous.” In the sixth stanza, I love the phrase “strong and subtle flavors.”

    I read your poems, and I enjoy them. But sometimes, I read one of your poems, and I am struck by how good it is, I am inspired to read it again and analyze, and to write better myself. This is one of those times. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.