Hospital Food

January 1, 1999
Volume 16, Issue 1

Hospital Food - Poetry of the Times

We lower a plastic tray on his ribs
as if food can stop the dying:
cold potato scooped like a snowball,
canned spinach oozing green,
microwaved chicken thigh.
I've watched anorectic men clog
N-G tubes with brown rice
and Kombacha mushroom tea,
listened to wives plead
just make him take a few bites,
withstood lectures on macrobiotics
delivered by a Camel chain-smoker.
No, I've never seen hospital food
stop the dying.

Some days, worn and hungry,
I take refuge in smooth noodles,
glistening black beans and red chilis,
sweet white sesame balls
the size of prayers,
fragrant sips of jasmine tea.
And I think about the sick men
dissolving like tailpipes in the sea,
what they long to devour,
how we die without appetite
and the way we live with hungers
that consume our hearts like another kind of dying.

© CME LLC
1/99

Read more

of Dr. Berlin's work.