Like the Rolling Stones song, it paints
everything black: teeth, gums, tongue,
even epiglottis—a word that delights
my brother and me. Dave can’t say it
often enough, clapping his hands,
Twizzlered up, “Right in the epiglottis!”
as if it’s something that’s caught
a hard pitch, been kicked. As if
its bulge shape could grant it a place
among the family jewels—
this testicular tonsil that drops
when saying, “Ah!” The kids say
if you repeatedly swallow chewing gum,
the doctor’ll pull a tumour from your bum,
a messy Hubba Bubba wad big as a fist.
American candy is better, so we plan ahead,
hand out Heath bars, Lemonheads, Now and Later,
Dots, and Blow Pops, though in 1983
someone tops us with Hot Pix. We amp up:
grape and orange Chews, fifteen cents apiece.
Witch kisses are for old ladies. Suckers
and Rockets get assigned the first piles,
but are last to pass by that ol’ epiglottis.
Dave’s always a banker, counts his candy,
trades Sweet Maries and Milky Ways
like weak stocks. These are the days
of popcorn balls, safe within this subdivision.
Kids’ll line up outside like going to the movies.
For the trick-or-treaters Mrs. Hoorelbeck knows,
there’s fudge. Sparkling lumps of it.
Over the dish, my fingers shilly-shally,
eager to command the largest chunk, have it
telepath itself to me, leap magnetically to my thumb—
as if its girth will give it more chance to seal
sugar to my tongue for another year.