Literary Zone

Poetry: Eating for two

15 September 2019 at 16:38 | 1770 views

Eating for two

By Phillipa Yaa de Villiers, South Africa

Eating for two
Hunger grumbles,
fragrant food seduces
the stomach
genteel lips conceal gushing saliva,
our eyes journey to the Sunday chicken.
We look away to pray,
amen gives way
to flashing knives and gnashing teeth.
For now, hunger retreats.

The tourist asks
why Africa is hungry.
Divided the heart:
we don’t know how to answer.

hunger humbles,
a beggar reaches into
the cold skies of a stranger’s eyes
as hunger tumbles
into a gutter of stuttering
half-baked dreams
and aborted fantasies
and bungles plans
and scrambles opportunities.
And hunger stumbles
along blocked synapses,
bumps its head repeatedly as
bulimic greed
dry heaves
its simulated grief,
stuffing images of lust
into a seething cavity
of need.

The tourist asks
how we plan
to solve the problem.
Subtracted the stomach:
we don’t know how to answer.

hunger, the farmer
sows rows of skeletons,
and waits for an empty harvest.
Hunger builds a boat of bones,
casts a net of starving eyes,
people drown in dust, without resisting.
There is no second course;
dying fragments loaf
along the desert’s shore.

The tourist is the authority.
They know how to stay alive! We are still learning.
Politely we wipe our mouths and give thanks for what we have
received, pronunciation, and chicken, on Sundays.
Contradiction multiplied:
we don’t know how to answer.

We live by killing,
we can’t explain.
Perhaps hunger will come to our table one day.

But by then,
most probably,
the tourist will have
gone away.