The Potato Eaters

By Leonard E. Nathan 1924–2007
Sometimes, the naked taste of potato
reminds me of being poor.

The first bites are gratitude,
the rest, contented boredom.

The little kitchen still flickers
like a candle-lit room in a folktale.

Never again was my father so angry,
my mother so still as she set the table,

or I so much at home.

Reprinted by permission of the author, whose most recent book is Tears of the Old Magician, Orchises Press, 2003.

Source: Tears of the Old Magician (Orchises Press, 2003)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Leonard E. Nathan 1924–2007


Subjects Home Life, Relationships

Poetic Terms Couplet


Leonard E. Nathan was a poet, critic, translator and professor emeritus of rhetoric at the University of California-Berkeley. Born in 1924 in southern California, Nathan earned his PhD at Berkeley in 1961. Nathan was instrumental in many of the transformational changes occuring within the University during the late 1960s and was one of the founders of the Department of Rhetoric. A vibrant teacher, Nathan was also a prolific poet . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Home Life, Relationships


Poetic Terms Couplet

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.