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Sweet Taste


 
 
 
Girl Jamie’s great grandmother was a tiny lady

with tiny cupboards in a tiny house

that leaned slightly down the hill

as if the valley had something to say

 

but was whispering it over and over

and the house was just on the cusp of hearing it.

Perhaps the murmuring of the creek

kept the story or gossip from being quite clear.

 

When she asked sweetly and opened her eyes

just a bit wider, Girl Jamie coaxed her great granny

into making chocolate pudding just for her

and then letting her eat it right straight from the cooking.

 

The warm cocoa taste was an angel in the mouth

and Girl Jamie couldn’t even cuss her daddy

for a day after eating it.

Great Granny spooned it warm

 

into tiny cut glass dishes and let a teaspoon

be already holding the first steamy bite.

Great Granny always narrowed her eyes

as she watched Girl Jamie swallow

 

and swallow again and ting the spoon

against the glass until there was no more pudding

but the brown shadow of a pudding that used to be.

When Girl Jamie went back to the porch

 

as she always did, Great Granny ran her finger

around the dish and licked it clean like a cat would.

She tasted the chocolate and the remnants

of youth. She opened her kitchen window

 

above the sink and went as a woodpecker

in a quick a loop around the house

before she came in to wash the pudding pot.

Girl Jamie narrowed her eyes at a black dropped feather.
 
 
 
 
*These poems are part of a series that centers around “Bad Jamie” – a pill addict in southern Appalachia—his daughter Girl Jamie, and various other family members. As family folklore and environment intersect in these poems, dead grandmothers turn to woodpeckers, women inherit the ability to live as mountain lions, and Bad Jamie is a black hole the other characters try to resist falling into.
 
 
 
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Jessica Fordham Kidd is a lifelong Alabamian. She is the associate director of First-Year Writing at the University of Alabama, and her poems have appeared in Drunken Boat, Goblin Fruit, and The Paris Review among others.