“Food,” by John Updike

The other day I discovered a delightful book, small, about the size of  a deck of Tarot cards, adorned with one of those old-fashioned ribbons for marking favorite passages, like a tiny red tongue sticking out.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Poems about Food and Drink, selected and edited by Peter Washington (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets, Alfred A. Knopf, 2003), spills over with dozens and dozens of food poems. Reading the words of voices long quiet, as well as some still speaking, reminds me how much we need poetry to right us from time to time. And in the winter, especially February, with the gray skies hovering overhead and the daffodils hesitantly poking their yellow noses out of the leaf-covered dirt.

Wolfgang Kuhnle
Picture credit: Wolfgang Kuhnle

One poem, the very first in the collection, caught my interest, for the poet in question is none other than the now-deceased John Updike. A prolific writer and critic, Updike hankered to be a poet, too, as well as the prolific novelist and essayist most of us know him to have been.

And with this poem, he spoke indeed as a poet:


It is always there,
Man’s real best friend.
It never bites back;
it is already dead.
It never tells us we are lousy lovers
or asks us for interview.
It simply begs, Take me;
it cries out, I’m yours.
Mush me all up, it says;
Whatever is you, is pure.

Listen to a pocast of the poem HERE.

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