How Men Eat

I watch men eat;


The opening of the mouth


The curling of the tongue


The pouching of the cheek.


I watch how they slice and spear,


How they chew and swallow.


I watch how men


Forget to pretend


With food on their plate.


All I need to know about a man


I find as he eats.


Watch the man who picks


At his food as if it were ridden


With hundreds and thousands


Of rapacious weevils


Each seeking to chew into him.


Daubing and probing


He litters the rim with suspicion.


This is one you could befriend


But must never love.


For fear holds him back. In life


There is none more important  than him.


The man there who shovels in


With gusto and relish


Each mouthful of what you lay before him.


Life to him is a marrow bone


To suck and suck.


Till dark flesh slides down his throat.


Keep him only for a while


For even as he beams with all he devours


Soon he will pick every shred


Of your life and thought


Licking you clean of your very being.


Now of this one be wary


He eats as if to eat


Is an act of faith.


Yet the plate is wiped clean.


Now watch as he trashes


The cook, the cauldron and  the stove.


Malcontent and miserable


The food is ashes in his belly.


Everything to him is an affront,


A failure to measure up.


And so will you. Eventually.


There is the careful eater


Taking only as much


As he knows is possible.


Nibbling, tasting, never rushing.


The deliberate boy


Who arranges his plate


As if it were his tomorrow.


Everything in its place.


Marry him to your daughter


For he will love as he eats


Carefully. But for yourself, is that what you want?


Often I would wonder


If there would ever be one


In whom lives a hunger


To know food as more than food.


So each meal is for him


As it is to me:


The last meal on earth


To savour and relish.


Would there be one


With an insatiable appetite


For love. For life. For more than  what we can see.


Wait I see a man there


Whose hand seeks his mouth


With no thought, no joy.


Just another thing to do.


What monsters lurk within?


What bleakness blears the edges?


Then I see him reach


For a plump purple fig


I see the mask of indifference split.


I see the hunger for the sap, the flesh The yearning to feast on all there is.


What makes him hide


His hunger for what could be his?


Is it food he fears


Or is it what love could be?


I see then the furtive greedy grasp


The northern lights of desire


The fig set ablaze in him.


I could teach him to eat


As to love I think.


He will teach me to see, I think.


He will teach me to be, I think.



Anita Nair is a well-known novelist. Her books include The Better Man, Ladies Coupe, Mistress, Lessons In Forgetting and Cut Like Wound. Follow her on @anitanairauthor

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