Family Restaurant

Underneath the spoon’s
small lake of chowder
she fears her face
is still staring back,
upside-down, like
some girl in China,
& depending on the angle,
either outlandishly skinny
or outlandishly fat.
She shuts her eyes
& quickly shoves it in.
“Delicious, isn’t it?”
her mother smiles
from the other side of
their round, round table.

In response to a word prompt at Read Write Poem (from which I used only the first word, “spoon”). Read the other responses here.

16 Replies to “Family Restaurant”

  1. You sure got how kids’ eyes sure see different (i.e. entire worlds better) than old folks’.

    I’ve heard that a discomfort with the way the food looks can revisit you as your start losing your mind, and that care givers actually try to make dementia patients food look less weird to them by eliminating, as far as is possible, any variations in size, color and texture. How weird is that? I wonder where geriatricians got that idea making everything white would help. From children?

    1. I don’t know. I don’t remember ever being fussy about food (except for the three things I didn’t like: liver, cooked raisins, and cooked yallow squash). So when I get old and senile, hopefully I will still wolf everything down as I did when I was small.

  2. In the Alzheimer’s wing, residents are encouraged to do shoulder strengthening calisthenics. “Do you want to eat?” the leader cries, “Well lift your arms!”

  3. I really like the image of the girl shutting her eyes before quickly forcing the food in. It reminds me of eating brussels sprouts when I was a kid. I also like the repetition of round in the last line. There’s something eerie in that, which I really like.

    1. Oh, good, I’m glad you liked that. It’s one of those choices suggested at first by the rhythm: I duplicated “round” as a filler until I thought of a second adjective, then thought, why not keep it? Thanks for the comment.

  4. I can’t believe you wrote this spell-binding poem in only twenty minutes. It’s a little marvel of oddness, off-kilter like the poems of Todd Boss or Kay Ryan. First of all, the sounds “spoon” together so well in so many places: lake & face, chowder & down, isn’t it & it in, mother & other, smiles and side. The idea of the poem is grotesque in the same true way that children’s fairytales or “Coraline” is grotesque — families are settings where we devour (psychologically) one another: child eats his/her opposite, unnatural alter ego self; child is a product of his/her opposite (“other side” of the spoon-like table)parent. Sorry to do so much psycho-literary analysis, but this poem is very rich and striking.

    1. Hey Therese, thanks for the kind evaluation. I feel way smarter than I deserve to now! But it’s not about me, of course, it’s about the poem, which does indeed seem to have a lot more going on in it than first appears. Funny how that works.

  5. This is a very creepy dialectic you present us with. I thought of Coraline too but also of the John Bellairs novels I read as a kid. There’s a real sense of the girl’s stuckness for me in all that roundness, the stasis of how things are for her. She ain’t goin nowhere.

    1. John Bellairs is great! And you make a good point: my notions about how kids think cannot help but be colored by all the great kids’ books I’ve read.

  6. Made me laugh with the up-side-down “girl in china” line. I like how you took a spoons image and turned it into a poem. A poet’s eye. Thanks for sharing!

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