Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge!

the candy lady

On Fridays, our grandfather takes us
to the candy lady's house,
even though our grandmother worries he's going
to be the cause of our teeth rotting
right out of our heads.
But my grandfather just laughs,
makes us open our mouths
to show the strong Irby teeth we've inherited
from his side of the family.
The three of us stand there, our mouths open wide,
strong white teeth inside,
and my grandmother has to nod, has to say,
They're lucky before sending us on our way.

The candy lady's small living room is filled
with shelves and shelves of chocolate bars
and gumdrops, Good & Plenty and Jujubes,
Moon Pies and Necco Wafers,
lollipops and long red licorice strings.
So much candy that it's hard to choose
until our grandfather says,
Get what you want but I'm getting myself some ice cream.
Then the candy lady, who is gray-haired
and never smiles, disappears
into another room and returns a few minutes later
with a wafer cone, pale yellow
lemon-chiffon ice cream dripping from it.
Outside, even this late in the afternoon,
the sun is beating down
and the idea of lemon-chiffon ice cream cooling us,
even for a few minutes,
makes us all start saying at once-Me, too, Daddy.
Me, too, Daddy. Me, too.

The walk home from the candy lady's house
is a quiet one
except for the sound of melting ice cream
being slurped up
fast, before it slides past our wrists,
on down our arms and onto
the hot, dry road.

Written by Jacqueline Woodson


Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge