SUGAR

My mother is a hungry ghost. She comes to me in dreams,
asking, where’s the applesauce? The kind you make?
Cooked with the skins on, whirled with cinnamon
and nutmeg, swirled through a food mill, smooth fruit
separated from skins, cores, seeds. Shouldn’t this sweetness exist in the afterlife? Yet I’ve heard
that’s what angels crave those times they’re glimpsed, partly visible, a rustle of wings,
an opening in the air. Apparently, they shimmer,
made of gossamer and light. We always long
for what we don’t have, and they yearn to be incarnate,
to know the hunger of the tongue. Filaments
of cotton candy, fistfuls of sugar, the long slow drip
of honey and molasses. I tried to sweeten my mother’s
last days, bringing her a deconstructed sundae—
coffee ice cream in one cup, hot fudge in another,
whipped cream in a third. But her hunger
is not appeased. She still longs for this world,
its confectionary splendor. She would, if she could,
open her mouth like a bird or a baby, and let me spoon
it in.
~Barbara Crooker
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