The Glad Sounds of Eating

To eat is human, for it is then
that we are truly revealed,
putting our mouths around
what will become ourselves.

Yet how rarely is it depicted in art
in full gaping, masticating detail.
Instead, we get paintings of fruit or soup cans
or people gabbing around a table
while ignoring gustatory delicacies in plain view.

You would think Edward Hopper could have
shown the two women actually
eating some chop suey.

And would it have killed Norman Rockwell
to include among those grateful Americans
gleefully greeting their turkey
a chubby little boy in the corner
stuffing his face with dinner rolls?

All those paintings of the Last Supper?
Forget it. There’s nary a nibble,
not even from Judas before heading out
for the evening.

Thank goodness for Bruegel
who knew a peasant wedding feast
when he saw one, with real people
chowing down and licking their fingers.
You can hear the glad sounds of eating.

But there is no joy in Goya’s
Saturn Devouring His Son,
as a wild-eyed Saturn grasps his son’s body
like a Big Mac,
its pale limp buttocks
hanging below white knuckles,
to take another bloody bite.

I guess that’s why Goya left his painting
not for show but on the plaster wall
of his dining room
and why so few painters
elected to portray the darker things
that go on at dinnertime.

First published in Better Than Starbucks: Poetry and Fiction Journal, May 2021