This one was published in Peeking Cat Poetry
Away with the Bitterness
Uncle’s sweet tooth had to be satisfied and
each day he would fill his brown paper
lunch bag with a peanut butter sandwich,
always with wheat bread,
and two peanut butter cups.
My eleven-year-old eyes watched
this ritual each day while eating
the Life cereal he had prepared for me:
a half bowl with two heaping
tablespoons of sugar and a seventies
era Tupperware cup of milk.
I would later learn that while he
breakfasted with me each day,
my aunt would be in the next room
giving herself the morning insulin shot.
Uncle would always be given sweets
because no one could think of
anything else he would enjoy.
Besides the occasional jar of Brazilian
or cashew nuts, were the Whitman candies
most people reserved as an obligatory gift
for someone they did not know.
His wife would watch the candy with bitter eyes,
for she could not have the crust at Pizza Hut,
nor the breaded fish at Long John Silvers,
which blocked her calls because she
complained too much on their hotline.
It was she who begged him long ago to leave
his love in England during the war
to join her in the States, or else,
the blood would run not from
the trenches of Europe,
but rather the veins
in her wrists back home.
On Christmas, he would smile knowing the candy
he was to receive, and she scowled
as he passed the chocolate caramels around,
encouraging all but her to a Merry Christmas: