The remedy for everything is food.
For backache, have a plum.
For menstrual cramps, a pear.
For heartache or any fevers in the blood,
soup—thick, yellow, chicken soup
spotted with globules of clear fat.
For those gone tipsy in the head,
not herbs and roots that aunts and widows,
guided by the moon, once ripped from fields
beyond the outskirts of the town,
but “a balanced diet”—
steak, potatoes, salad,
and “a piece of fruit.”
Now any decision is best resolved
following a night’s sleep
that inevitably follows “a good meal.”
If you feel bad, have something to eat.
If you feel good, celebrate by eating more.
In summer, winter, his mother,
at the boy’s elbow, serving from a pan,
urges him to eat, eat more,
reciting an endless menu
of chicken, liver, beef
“for making power in the body”;
halibut, flounder, sole
“for making power in the brain”;
and spinach, peaches, prunes
“for making sure the bowels
run regular, like trains.”
“The memories of hunger grew,”
his grandfather says,
“until the body vas an empty place
demanding to be filled,
as if from one age to the other
the cells have been housing
the hungers of the dead,
and now, in this place of plenty,
the dead are crying out,
demanding their due.”