diabetic ketoacidosis

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones. One symptom is fruity smelling breath.




my mother tells me the pieces
like statistics

at 3 she could pour

orange juice

at 5 she could rub icing

across my grandmother’s gums

details memorized

to keep her mother alive


i want to hold that girl

but she’s gone
sugar dissolved in water




a friend tells me

how she saved a stranger

knowing their condition

by that sweet scent


i ask too many questions
what did it smell like?

like too much icing?
or souring food?


i listen to every word
hungry for similes

of icing and resurrection




on a winter morning

the siren wails

reminding my mother

of all the times she wondered

if this time

it would take her mother


even now my heart races

terrified of love

slipping through

her elegant hands




my friend’s mother was a diabetic

what a difference 15 years makes

between a childhood

of orange juice

or insulin




the smell must be

like the trash

i piled into a dying van


so strong it wooed

black bears to scavenge

in the sunlight


i can’t forget the scent

so sweet it soured

the tongue




in the silence following dreams

i can smell it

that sweet smell

between death

and resurrection

Katie Simpson is a writer and photographer based in San Francisco. Her work has been featured in Brooklyn Magazine, The Hairpin, and Femsplain. When not writing you can find her exploring cities, rewatching romcoms, and scouring used book stores. Find her online at Twitter at: https://twitter.com/honest_creative