Adrienne Su
May 2002



Four Sonnets about Food


1

Words can't do
what bird bones
can: stew
to the stony
essence
of one
small soul, the spent
sacrifice boiled down
to the hard white
matter that nourishes
the mighty
predator, who flourishes
on the slaughtered
animal & water.


2

Who feeds
another is like bones
to him who eats
(I say "him" only
because it is a man
in my house
who eats & a woman
who goes about
the matter of sustenance),
food being always
a matter of life and
death and each day's
dining
another small dying.


3

Scallops seared
in hot iron
with grated ginger,
rice wine,
and a little oil
of sesame, served
with boiled
jasmine rice, cures
the malaise
of long, fluorescent
weekdays
spent
in the city
for money.


4

I am afraid
I can't always be
here when you need
a warm body
or words; someday
I'll slip
into the red clay
I started with
and forget
who you are,
but
for now, here's
my offering: baked red
fish, clear soup, bread.



from Middle Kingdom, Alice James Press, 1997.