When my mother packed
my lunch, she wrapped a slice
of gingerbread in wax
paper and the upper crust
stuck to the wrapper when
I peeled it open, so I set
the greasy paper aside,
and meant to throw it out,
but that Malony girl,
whose dress was always stained,
snatched it from my desk
and licked the crust off the waxed
paper, all the while beaming
with delight the way an epicure
might grin to avail herself
of a fine morel paté.
Her family lived in a rundown
farmhouse behind the cemetery,
all the paint worn off the clapboards.
How many siblings she had no-one
could count, and because
I didn’t understand, I told my father
how that girl took my trash to eat,
and wrinkled my nose in disgust.
But my father, who had been
to Calcutta during the last war
and seen people sleeping in the streets,
only sighed and said softly:
“You must have compassion.”
I still didn’t understand,
but I wanted to be a good son,
and now I wonder what
became of all the Malonys,
and if that girl grew past her hunger,
if she ever tasted anything sweeter
than my mother’s gingerbread crust,
and if one day she got to wear
a dress without a stain.
Here is the link to the video on You Tube:
W. Luther Jett is a native of Montgomery County, Maryland and a retired special educator. His poetry has been published in numerous journals as well as several anthologies. He is the author of four poetry chapbooks: “Not Quite: Poems Written in Search of My Father”, (Finishing Line Press, 2015), and “Our Situation”, (Prolific Press, 2018), “Everyone Disappears” (Finishing Line Press, 2020) and, “Little Wars” (Kelsay Books, 2021).
Hunger-focused Poems by Maryland Poets
Creation of this section and publishing the works of Maryland poets was supported by the Maryland State Arts Council.