My mother was a connoisseur of confections who waxed poetic about Butterfingers and Clark bars the way a sommelier does wine. She had stashes of candy hidden around the house, mostly from herself. One of her favorites was black licorice, and I joined her in that revery. If memory serves me right, we were the only two in the family to enjoy it.

Shortly after she died, I found myself inexplicably devouring black licorice. Bags of it – daily. I would stop at a grocery store after school to buy one or two bags, tear open a pouch in my car and consume the entire thing in one sitting, finishing it well before I got home minutes later. I couldn’t get it fast enough.

I wondered when this compulsion would end and how much weight I would gain if it didn’t. I mentioned it to a friend and she attempted to assuaged my fears, confiding that when her mother died she ate stacks and stacks of pancakes after work every day. She said she couldn’t help herself, and neither could I. Empty licorice bags littered my school totes, dresser drawers, and glove compartment. I imagined this was the way of a junkie craving a fix.

It was mine.

I worried superficially, but deep down I didn’t really care. I consoled myself, reasoning that there were a lot worse things to be addicted to. It kept going. For half a year I ate bags and bags of black licorice.

Then one day – just like that – it stopped. I didn’t want it or need it anymore. I wondered why I was satiated, and was relieved at the cessation of a physical craving so real, I could not have imagined it possible.

To follow is my inaugural attempt at a sonnet, dedicated to that ebony confection and the lady who started it all.

Black Licorice

Often a bit reward for something done,

bags of midnight treats in hidden places.

I oft knew to seek them in those spaces,

licorice loved by both of us as one.

We shared it often, sweet delicious fun.

Others turned away their crinkled faces.

That veiled stash of flavorful embraces;

we took the tasty treat when work was done.

Then it held appeal for her no longer.

Confused, I wondered why this could be so.

Hiding places full of goods went untouched.

Weakened, she would not be getting stronger.

Too soon it was the hour for her to go-

the lady that I always loved so much.

9 thoughts on “Licorice

  1. I love licorice! And every time I think of my dad as we would fight over the black jelly beans in the Easter candy bowl. Thank you for this post and for the memory of my dad!


  2. Love this post – I am a crinkled face – but give me red licorice and I am a happy girl! I think this is interesting how you suddenly needed and then after a time you were totally done with this black treat. I can think of treats I shared with my Grandfather but the big one we loved was to eat Swedish Rye bread and peanut butter while listening to the radio. Oh you poem has brought on some lovely memories! Thanks


    1. Thank you! Those food memories are so strong, aren’t they? I didn’t even realize it until I began writing this slice – how strong this connections really was. Rye bread and peanut butter – that’s another good one in my book!


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