I’m participating in Sharon Salzberg’s 28-Day Real Happiness Meditation Challenge again this year, and my plan for this blog series is to write a poem or reflection on each day’s practice. You can find all the responses on the landing page.


I've always liked eating alone, 
the taste and texture to match
my mood, the quantity, too, 
wherever the sun finds itself in the day. 

And not only because I don’t eat neatly, 
cannot match food to mouth with math, 
though if you've sat across from me in a café, 
you know this, you've seen and slightly recoiled 
perhaps from the spill of juice or jelly, the smear 
of butter, the drool of melting ice, the sawdusting 
of puff pastry stuck like small flags of surrender 
to my waiting wool sweater. 

It's worse in a restaurant or at friends' dining tables, 
when utensils, hauling the most irregular 
and scattershot parcels, hoist and manoeuver 
toward their mutable small berth. 
I'm in no danger of jabbing fork to eye, 
it's not that fraught, but food drifts 
and flicks with unerring regularity somewhere 
on its journey, and usually, disturbingly, 
mysteriously, lands liberally covered in an oily sauce, 
whether it began that way or not. Let’s hope you’re 
not wearing white.

So, yes, eating alone preserves certain public illusions, 
and clothing, for what that's worth, but my fondness 
is not a matter of couth. Eating alone is a shedding, 
a carefree dance of the seven veils, a naked swoon 
for the salient aroma of jasmine rice and fresh arugula, 
an unrestrained wiggle welcoming thick buttered toast 
and anything with capers. It's a loosening of fruitless 
layers until all that remains is needful, palpable, 
and strewn with crumbs, erratic and savoured.

© MMW 12 Feb 2023

Featured image: beignets at Hueys on the River in Savannah, Dec. 2013, one of the happiest messiest meals.

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