“What Do You Eat?”


I wonder what answer you anticipate –
that this will be the big reveal of my diet
of air, of spun gold, of broiled unicorn.
Cooking must be so hard for you.

Perhaps you picture one big bowl
of bland slurry. Perhaps my plate,
in your mind, is a forlorn jigsaw puzzle:
a hole where the biscuit should be.

Perhaps you’re like the woman who,
after I asked that dressings be held off,
that sauces be set to the side, took
to calling my dishes “naked.”

Look, I got a naked chicken just for you.
We’ll all have naked salad tonight.

Let me introduce you to the pleasures
of naked salad: kale massaged to
sweetness, hearts of palm, chili, onion,
the ripe moonrise of an avocado.

woman smelling veggies


Let me show you how pork shoulder
yields to nothing but salt and slow heat.
Let’s cool gazpacho with mint and melon.
Let’s curry the potatoes and squash.

Take away the milk and the eggs,
the salmon and crab, almonds, peanuts,
wheat, gluten, soy, corn, sesame—
I’ll still have recipes to spare.

What do you eat?
That must be so hard for you,
Only if your imagination’s pantry is bare.

Contributor Sandra Beasley is the author of three collections of poetry and a memoir, Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life (Crown).