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Callaloo 24.4 (2001) 1029
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You ain't mad, is you? Then give me some sugar.
My aunt wants a kiss from us, wants us to forgive
her want for the sugar her body doesn't take.
Near 80, she has become a patient nurses do not like.
At times we do not like her either, and often are mad with her
for sneaking candy into the house,
shocked at how bald her curses are. She doesn't like her life
without sugar, doesn't want to be old without
what she has loved for so long,
walking herself three times a day to buy sweets
and a Goody's powder. Now, one of her toes has been taken,
others may go. She doesn't walk but still she wants
her sweets, bribes some cousins to sneak
cookies past her sisters who worry they cannot care
well enough for her at home.
My aunt asks if we are mad and doesn't wait
to be answered, knows we will bend
to kiss her, laugh at how impossible she's become,
how funny she can be. The truth be told it's hard
enough living our own lives out, going along with what is best or right
but doesn't always seem so.
Hungers having not much to do with us make us
hold on to each other,
forgive each other what we finally do.
Forrest Hamer is a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, and a practicing psychologist in Oakland, CA. Call & Response (1995) was his first collection of poems, followed in 2000 by Middle Ear.