THE WEIRD VEGETARIAN POEM


Here is how it works:
you stop eating everything
that seems to be sentient,
everything that can run away,
have fear, or feel pain.

You go on for several months this way,
and you begin to notice things.
The animals in your dreams are different;
they no longer hide from you
or fight you for their lives.
Your own animal body
no longer wrestles the protein
into your stomach.
You no longer stand guard
over the tissue of the now-dead.
You feel a clearness and a lightness
that you had not known you were missing,
a quietness, like you can hear the vegetables humming,
and they sound happy.

Only then, you listen a little closer,
thinking you will overhear some quaint, tribal song,
not realizing that the natives are getting restless.
You read about the one-celled devouring each other
before the plants had arisen, evolutionarily speaking.
Which means that plants are,
in a sense, descended from animals.
They could be thought of as animals
who have given up defending themselves
in exchange for not having to take it mortally
every time they lose a limb.
You start to think differently about pruning,
about pulling things up by the roots.
You begin to wonder if carrots
will hear the prayers for absolution
we no longer dare say over a cod.

Perhaps it comes down to learning
to pray in another, vegetable
language. Think of this:
You pick apples one morning,
and each time you grasp one,
you pull gently enough
to make it a question, not a demand.
Feeling how the fruits give way gladly,
you shake the tree and watch your breakfast
drop to the ground all around you,
the big plant laughing.


appeared in the anthology Hunger and Thirst