Like every mamma, she had her own remedies,
like baking soda
on a canker sore. It doesn’t sound easy,
but it worked; besides, her own
mother (my grandmother, died before
I was born) tried this on her,
"And see? I survived." (Shrug).
Still, I wouldn’t do it by myself.
She had to bend before me
at the bathroom sink, tug
at my lip to expose the ulcer,
milk white and irritated by a curious
tongue running over its crater.
it's better to plunge into the drama,
to twist and grind a coated finger into
the open wound before my consent.
The sting wouldn’t make a noise;
if it did, it would have sizzled,
hissed like meat frying on a skillet,
or the poppop...pop of grease landing on
And it was over, the pain left
to fade as I slept away anger on the jaw.
and baking soda
taught me the first life lesson:
sometimes, it must get worse, than better.
By the time I had reached my twenties
I had heard this saying so many times,
in so many ways,
that it began to sound too hopeful
for a self-styled cynic. So maybe
that's why it's only true when I hear
it in her voice on days it's time
to resort to her remedy