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poem 1 | poem 2 | poem 3

My Mother's Sweet Tooth

A last go at pleasure
she takes the world into her mouth,
she takes the sour cream coffee cake and
the rugelach with walnuts and currents.
She wants a pecan raisin loaf, two loaves,
See's suckers, and almond mandlebread,
and I'll take her hunger any way I can,
mainlining my mother's desires, finding
in her appetites the young woman---
tortoise-shell sunglasses and dark hair
pulled back in a silk scarf---
who gunned the white Ford Galaxy hard-top
convertible, a ringer for Jackie O.
This is her reward for years
of tuning deprivation
like a violin, of learning to do more on less
and less until she lived on argument,
withdrawal, dry toast and black coffee, the fish
dish halved. Now that medical studies show
the skinny live longer, she's gained
the sweet taste of being right all along.
Go ahead, try the ginger scones, there's time
for the lemon poppy seed cake, all the hours
you hoarded have turned into years. Eat, Ma,
you've banked your losses and now's the time
to redeem that self-denial, to cash out.


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