Autobiography of My Hungers by Eduardo C. Corral
His beard: an avalanche of honey,
of thorns. In a bar too close to the Pacific,
he said, “I don’t love you,
but not because I
couldn’t be attracted to you.” Liar—
even my soul
is potbellied. Thinness,
in my mind, equals the gay men
on the nightly news.
Kissed by death & public scorn.
The anchorman declaring,
“Weight loss is one
of the first symptoms.” The Portuguese
have a word for imaginary, never-
“I don’t love you,” he said.
The words flung him back—
in his eyes, I saw it—
to another bar
where a woman sidestepped his desire.
In tenth grade, weeks after
my first kiss, my mother
said, “You’re looking thinner.”
That evening, I smuggled a cake
into my room.
I ate it with my hands,
licked buttercream off
my thumbs until I puked.
Desire with no future,
I starve myself by yearning
for intimacy that doesn’t
& won’t exist.
Holding hands on a ferry. Tracing,
with the tip of my tongue,
a jawline. In a bar too close
to the Pacific, he said,
“I don’t love you, but not
because I couldn’t be attracted to you.”
an avalanche of thorns,
an avalanche of honey.
© 2020 Eduardo C. Corral. “Autobiography of My Hungers” first appeared in the July/August 2020 issue of Poetry Magazine. You can purchase this issue here.
I love the way Corral compares unrequited love to boundless hunger in this poem. Comparing the desire for food with the desire for love or sex is far from new—one need only watch Tom Jones (1963) to see a perfect example—but the way Corral repeats and inverts the imagery of thorns and honey in the first and last lines of the poem lend it a freshness and vivacity not always seen in (unrequited) love poems.
Do you have a favorite poem comparing unrequited love with physical hunger? Let me know in the comments or shoot me an email.
Books by Eduardo C. Corral (With Purchase Links)
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