“Lemon Icebox” by Sydney Smith

Sweetly bitter
is how I remember
Mimaw’s lemon icebox pie
and her five children too.

Just recalling
the funny shapes
their laughter took
as reminiscence dripped
from their lips
like brown gravy
onto their plates
returns me to my own
backyard memories.

But bitterness corrodes.
There was a spoken rule
that whoever didn’t come
to Sund’y dinner
was gettin’ talked about.

Sometimes it was Aunt Beth,
who sprinkled too much salt
on her tomatoes
and as a result
was growing fat as a tick
even though her babies
came out in ’91.

Or it was Cousin Melanie’s
first, and later third,
husband Brad
who looked like Caesar
with his homemade
salad-bowl cut.

Usually, though,
it was Mimi,
who always left first
to go lick her new
husband’s gouty toes
because he pretended
to have more riches
than all of us could
fit in our britches

But most importantly
Mimi was plumping up
almost as fast as Aunt Beth

Yeah, they liked to talk
about whoever wasn’t there.
I wonder if that’s why
God came up so much too.

I think the first commandment
ought to be
“Thou Shalt Seek Fulfillment.”

Clutching at a life without
that is like serving
a lemon icebox pie of just
lemons and egg yolks
to everyone you love.

Mimaw did always say,
“Give me some sugar”
when she wanted a kiss
on the cheek.

The earth abides forever,
and sins of the father become
the sins of the daughter,
for once that Sund’y roll
starts rising
it’s going to set.


Screen Shot 2020-02-01 at 9.52.47 AMA Jill-of-all-trades (master of one: disco dancing), Sydney Smith has published poems and biophysics research. Suffering from FOMO, she studied both physics and philosophy. Nature’s mystique inspires her to share science through storytelling. She can be reached at sydneylynsmith@gmail.com.