The Meal

Olds, Sharon

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Donley, Carol
  • Date of entry: Apr-16-1996


This poem is narrated by a school girl watching her anorexic mother force herself to eat cottage cheese so she can stay alive for her daughter. Apparently the mother's mother has also died young (at age twenty or so), and this mother at forty has no will to live, but forces herself to survive for the sake of her child.


The daughter/narrator remembers her mother force feeding herself cottage cheese, seen as a breast-image and shape of milk--sometimes curdled and unpleasant ("giving off a cold moony light"). But the daughter's memory shifts to the spoon and her mother's courage and ironic sacrifice (since she would have preferred to die) to live for her child.

Primary Source

The Gold Cell



Place Published