Seaside Picnic

Summer vacation has finally arrived. This leisurely pace brings impromptu trips to the beach for picnics with friends and family, and for inspired musings on Canadian literary fare.

There is something about sharing a meal in the open air—with the sand between your toes and the pages of poetry turning in the ocean breeze—that makes the food all the more tasty!

I recently sampled Alisa Gordaneer’s book of poems Still Hungry (2015), which is thoughtfully subdivided under the headings “Salt,” “Sour,” “Bitter,” and “Sweet.”

Within and between these sections, appetites ebb and flow with the seasons and with life’s experiences. You come away from these poems realizing how flavours are intimately bound with certain memories. How food connects us with others and marks our daily lives—the losses and the joys—leaving us hungry for more, or for less. If you visit Gordaneer’s website, you will be invited to contribute to an ongoing conversation about our varied relationships with food and the many themes evoked by Still Hungry.

In the poem “Picnic” (included in the section “Sweet”), Gordaneer conjures the longed-for idealism of summer, as a couple attempts to recapture the intimacy of the early years of their marriage. Dusty from disuse, wine bottles and glasses are remembered and retrieved. An old picnic blanket, a wedding gift, is “unfurled like a flag” on the sand—a declaration of their (hopefully) continued love and appreciation of one another.

Especially delightful is the fresh and sensual picnic menu.

Olives for those “hot days far away” (83).

A choice of creamy cheeses (including blue) to elicit tender touches on the skin.

And most poignantly, the speaker requests “everything from the beginning” (83).  It’s an alpha-inspired list of veggies and fruit, all green and golden:

artichokes, asparagus, avocados.

Although the speaker tells the partner to “bring love,” uncertainty lingers, as their temporary display of unity appears, at times, untruthful (83). Nevertheless, this picnic-for-two signals a desire for communion, an enduring appetite for intimacy and fresh fulfillment.

Entry and Photo Credits: Shelley Boyd

Canadian Literary Fare

Gordaneer, Alisa. “Picnic.” Still Hungry. Winnipeg: Signature Editions, 2015. 83. Print.

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