The Question of Food

Alistair Elliot

Sunday October 26, 1986

How do these things become us? – orange juice
as we cast off, fudge as we meet the ocean
funnelling into the inlet of Cape May, then
boiled chestnuts, grey and wrinkled as the seas
our stomachs ride (the heaving field of Delaware Bay)
all morning, and for lunch a chocolate kiss
and an apple from the pollen of two trees
sensibly rooted, restaurants of bees ...

What can our helpless tissues make of this?

Coasting on glacier mints and peppermint tea
like an experiment, we come to Ocean City,
lasso some posts for Emilie to nuzzle
in the dark, after her evening drink of diesel,
and sink into the cabin where already
there’s crabmeat fried in butter, and sashimi
(tuna as soft as jelly), steak, and salad.

Somehow the four tall engines are refuelled
by this: we smile, and share the mystery.