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To Be This Hungry

By Jane Sadowsky

I was young, in school,

lucky enough not to know the meaning of hunger.

It seemed they were everywhere then,

old men in tattered coats, hands unfurled.

But it’s you, I remember,

in a small store, asking, please, for food.

The young clerk dished up a cup of soup, pressed it, wordless,

into your waiting hand.

One sip, and you roared.

Roared!

“It’s too hot - too hot!

Do you know what it’s like?

To be this hungry, have food in your hand,

and not be able to eat?”

Shaking with hunger or rage, almost weeping your despair,

you were a wildness I’d never seen,

towering over the clerk who cringed away from her good deed.

Two men grabbed your arms,

hustled you ungently out of the store, back onto the street.

Out of our lives.

Too hot to be able to eat.

Your image burned into my brain.

Later, my friends declared

we had stumbled into a bad part of town,

dismissed you.

But, I see you still.

To be this hungry, have food in your hand, and not be able to eat.

JANE SADOWSKY lives in North Tonawanda and works as an administrative assistant at the Stanley G. Falk School in Buffalo. Her poetry, which has appeared in such publications as Beyond Bones I, The Empty Chair, Voices From the Herd, The Still Empty Chair and Earth’s Daughters magazine, was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Prize.