Sweet As

Gabrielle Balot


My mother sings to me

As she stands in the

Doorway of our shotgun home

Her weight against the wood keeps

Our walls from falling over again

Sugar should be my legal name

It’s the only way she addresses me

I wonder if she meant to put it

On my birth certificate

Or if people decided for her

That it wasn’t good enough

Sugar is bitter

When it slithers

Out of the mouths of

Boys who try to snatch a reaction

From me

But Sugar is sweetest as it rolls

Off the tongue of my mother

When she speaks it

She quickly licks the crystals from

Her lips before they dry her out


Was what caught my mother’s attention

When my father professed his love for her 

On that night in 1995

His voice melted the anxiety

Her mother

Implanted in her about Men like him

Sugar isn’t spoken by my father

He doesn’t address me with the same


Maybe he’s still angry that I stole the name

He held sacred for  her

For the child he didn’t know

They would bear