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PoetrySnaps! Cynthia Hogue: After the War There Was No Food

Courtesy Cynthia Hogue

In this week’s PoetrySnaps! segment, Tucson-based writer Cynthia Hogue shares her poem After the War There Was No Food. It’s a mix of memories and gut feelings all centered around a near-fatal heart attack her husband suffered some years ago. Hogue wrote it while he was in the ICU. It’s set during his childhood in WWII growing up in occupied France, a time of vast food shortages and desperate hunger.

Cynthia Hogue:

It’s based on the memory of a dream my husband had and had recounted to me many times over about ten years. Since he repeated himself sometimes, I would only half-listen. So, as he lay in the ICU almost having died that day, I came home from the hospital and I wrote this:

After the War There Was No Food

As a boy the man dreamed he lay in a box
of mineral salts, ruby, amber, quartz-clear.
He imagined eating the raw meat
of the goat whose milk he sucked as newborn.
Death was his mother, match-thin
and unsmiling. He loved her fiercely,
bleating into her sad face as he nursed.
Starving, the boy grew tall but not straight,
so lean the wind might sweep him off.
Lately, the man returned to the Forêt de Chinon,
which did not comfort him,
so many trees harvested
he lost his way. Hunger
was all he’d known when
a long time ago he pleaded
for Death his mother
to feed him. He bent to touch
himself because, after all,
Death would not.

About the poet:

Cynthia Hogue is a Tucson-based writer and Professor Emerita of English at Arizona State University. She’s published eighteen books, including nine poetry collections. Her tenth collection, instead, it is dark, is set for release next month. Hogue has upcoming reading events in New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Paris.

About the host:

Steven Law is the co-producer of KNAU’s series PoetrySnaps! He is a poet, essayist, storyteller, and the author of Polished, a collection of poems about exploring the Colorado Plateau by foot and by raft.

About the music:

Original music by Flagstaff-based band Pilcrowe.

PoetrySnaps! runs the first and third Friday of each month.

Steven Law was the co-producer of KNAU’s series PoetrySnaps!
Gillian Ferris was the News Director and Managing Editor for KNAU.