August 3, 2013

Essence of Bitter/Sweet

The ability to taste sweet has gone
she's damned if she knows why
sugar is like the sting of bees on her tongue
not even the lavender honey she spent a fortune on
tastes sweet
but reminds her of the bitter turnip greens
she used to turn her nose up as a child

She bakes endlessly
kitchen counters covered in sugars white and brown
waiting for the sweet to seep in
but every morsel she samples tastes bitter
so she tosses the fresh baked goods out the window
to the delight of the resident squirrels
and takes to snacking on lemons
skin and all
trying to recall the essence of sweetness
but she can't

Strangely, she recalls the old woman
she saw outside the grocery store
a few days before
asking for some sort of help
but she didn't have time
passing the elderly lady on winged feet
but she recalls suddenly and sharply
the aged woman's mop of crazy grey hair
and eyes like blue flames
then at lunch that day
everything became sharp on her tongue


He only tastes sweet
so cloying it makes him gag
even the steak he made for dinner
tasted like icing sugar
he cooks endless varieties of meats and stews
but it might as well be sugar lumps
so he tosses the meat in the trash
and picks up a lemon
takes a huge bite
convinced the sour can quell the sweet
but the lemon is like candy

He knows the sweetness started a few days before
when he turned a blind eye to an old woman
on the corner near the local grocery store
who flagged him down for assistance
but he was too rushed to stop
only recalls a cane clutched
in the old lady's rope-veined hands
and blue eyes looking strangely young
in a face as wrinkled as a Shar-Pei
as he pushed past her
and the coffee he bought after his meeting
was like sipping a cup of saccharine


She goes to the grocery store at dusk
glad she has her umbrella
as the sky splits and rain tumbles
but it's closed
no one is there
except for a man standing near the curb
drenched to the skin
a defeated expression on his pale face

He goes back to grocery store in the pouring rain
but the store is closed and he's alone
except for a woman with a polka dot umbrella
standing in the store entrance
one slender hand on the umbrella's bone handle
the other resting at base of her throat

The man looks at the woman
who is staring down the wet quiet street
face shadowed by the umbrella
and he shrugs and turns for home
the rain pelting him
as if someone is tossing gravel by the handful
but it doesn't distract from the cloy of sugar-sweetness
making his molars ache

The woman watches the man leave
his shoulders hunched against the battering rain
and she wants to say something to him
even opens her mouth to speak
but the bitterness lingers on her tongue
and she presses her lips together
twirling the umbrella so the raindrops scatter
catching the misty yellow light from the streetlamps overhead

ktn @ 2013


Steve Green said...

This is so good it could have been an episode from the Twilight Zone(one of my faves).. The old witch definitely made her point to these self absorbed people. I know it made me reflect cause that could have been me with messed up taste buds..

Great thought provoking story!!

aka_andrea said...

what a thoughtfully crafted tale~ for me I see a strong parallel in our earlier conversation...when you disregard and disengage from people there is a sort of obsessive fixation on the things that befall you~ I know our conversation came after you wrote this but wow, there is a very strong message for me in this piece~ so interesting...

Brian Miller said...

great story how you devote whole sections to each and how they are different yet similar...then you bring them together...and i am a sucker, i totally thought they would meet and be happy but all the more powerful for it....

NataĊĦa Dolenc said...

I like how you end the tale.. I especially like the last image.. so cute.

Granny Annie said...

Totally capturing tale. Excellent. What might have changed if she had sheltered him with her umbrella?

dsnake1 said...

what an intriguing write. captivating story, i hung on to every word till the end. wonder what could have been if they had wanted to change their fate. :)

Kerry O'Connor said...

What an amazing cautionary tale you have told here! The narrative is captivating, but you have lost nothing of the poetic in the telling. It seems there is no help for selfish people, even when they're given a chance to improve.

Hudson Howl said...

Woooooshful thinking. I gotta read a few more times. One of fav's if that is possible mark with your shtufffs. But it surely clings to me, there is no denying that.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

What a cool story - missed connections, opportunities intriguing......

annell said...

A wonderful story.

Mary said...

Wonderful story with a lesson. And poetically well penned. What an original poem!!

Dances With Vodka said...

Wow! Amazing story-telling!
And yes, most of the time, we only get one chance--and if we run away from it, it just may stay with us forever. I also liked each way they recalled the woman's eyes.

Truedessa said...

I enjoyed this story from start to finish with the twirling umbrella. Great job!

Vesper said...

This brought old fairy tales to my mind, Grimm's stories and others...
Perhaps the most intriguing is the last one. Makes you wonder...

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

A fascinating story/poem.

Madeleine Begun Kane

Sumana Roy said...

At first I did not like the poem's length. But the beauty of it was that it came to the end in no time. So captivating! Thoroughly enjoyed all the words.

G. B. Miller said...

Creepy, like the Night Gallery. And very very good.

the walking man said...

And people get mad at me or laugh when I give a stranger a smoke or a couple of coins.

Lynn said...

Golly! Masterful writing.

Margie said...

Bitter/Sweet, indeed and you had we hanging on to every word you wrote!
You do that, you know!
Great writing, Kim.
Thank you and have a great Monday.
I hope you are feeling better with the shoulder.

PhotoDiction said...

Scattering the rain drops like all thoughts of finding a companion. Wonderful story, nicely told.

PhotoDiction said...

Scattering the rain drops like all thoughts of finding a companion. Wonderful story, nicely told.

G-Man said...

Oh Talon...
A Mini-Epic!!!
As only you can tell.

Leslie said...

Talon - I first love the lesson you have taught here and then showing us at the end how it started in the beginning.

Patricia said...

And all this started at the grocery store - amazing story.

I am racing to finish a novella which is a group of 5 short stories - fascinating but a strange darkness fills the characters...
Your story has a creative strange too it which leaves a taste...full reminder

Oh we need to all assist you in getting your novel published. I just can hardly wait to read it and review it....
Here's the publisher who did this current book - Colony Collapse Press? Short stories they do...?

TALON said...

Thank you so much, everyone!

turtlememoir said...

makes me feel instantly sad for your protagonists - what is life without the ability to taste sweetness? to feel another's pain? we need that balance to complete ourselves... without it we end up a sea of solitudes