Bitter sits at the back of the tongue, so the old charts say,

but we found it didn’t stay there.


Accented with low notes of heartbreak and the piquant of rage,

bitter seeped into all the dishes that morning.

Spreading dark and thick, like Maw-Maw’s fig preserves,

bitter curdled our stomachs as we turned from the table.


From then on all our meals were tinged with it.

Bitter tainted the savory, spoiled the sweet,

ice cream, birthday cakes, candy.

Not even carbonation could tickle the taste away, nor chill its heat.


In early summer we ate unripe plums sprinkled with salt. 

We giggled around the sour bites that pinched our faces

and scrunched our shoulders, relishing the exchange

of one taste for another, but that only happened once.


Squatting beneath the live oak nearest the backdoor spigot,

we made mud pies, knowing they would taste the same.