Here’s a wonderful poem that I stumbled upon in a collection of poetry entitled Only the Sea Keeps: Poetry of the Tsunami (edited by three Pittsburgh poets Judith Robinson, Sankar Roy and Joan Bauer). I find this piece to be an amazingly vivid snapshot of an eating moment.  I am curious to know what memories of eating this evokes in you.

Memory of Dining in a Refugee Camp by Sankar Roy

Last night,

we ate the curry of water hyacinth.

The day before,

we devoured a rutabaga.


we will have the cabbage soup!

Made from one full green cabbage,

plump and round like the earth itself.

Mother cooks in the glow

of the kerosene lamp

over a mud oven

outside the tent’s dome.

The cabbage is now placed

on the dirt floor,

water boiling

in a black pot.

It simmers

like a hot well.

Mother rips cabbage leaves

one by one —

inner wraps are sallower —

they grew a step away

from the nourishing sun, pale

like my younger siblings.

Each leaf is a being in itself,

a spine running

down its center

and ribs spreading

under its green skin.

Wrinkled and moist

like Mother’s palm.

Pearls of dew,

hidden in the cabbage-chest,

gleam in the flicker of the oil lamp.

Shadow of severed leaves fly on the tent’s wall

like the wings of a giant bird

as Mother picks them from the dirt floor.

She releases them

into the tide

of the seething pot.

They drift away

towards the mist

of mid-water.

Mother serves soup in aluminum bowls.

Between the gaps in our teeth,

the soup pours down the gutters of our throats

and rains on the shores in our belly.

About Sankar Roy:

Sankar Roy, originally from India, is a poet, translator, activist and multimedia artist living near Pittsburgh, PA. He is a winner of PEN USA Emerging Voices, author of three chapbooks of poetry– Moon Country, The House My Father Could Not Build and Mantra of the Born-free (all from Pudding House). He is an associate editor of international poetry anthology, Only the Sea Keeps: Poetry of the Tsunami (Rupa Publication, India and Bayeux Arts, Canada). Sankar’s poems have appeared or forthcoming in over fifty literary journals including Bitter Oleander, Crab Orchard Review, Connecticut Review, Harpur Palate, Icon, Runes, Rhino, Tampa Review and Poetry Magazine.

Mindful Eating Resources:

Eating the Moment