Julie L. Moore


After twisting open the lid on the jar of molasses,
I raise the glass, inhale the earthy aroma,
part bark, part root of everyone
who gave me breath.
                               Comes my great grandmother Elsie,
her round body and gray hair pinned neatly in place,
her red gingham dress and rhubarb pie,
her Lebkuchen cookies. Her heart
the only day it failed, hours before my parents
caught us jumping on our beds and sat us down.
The first darkness of my childhood
pouring thickly over me.
                                    Comes my grandmother Irma,
her dyed-blond hair and lanky frame,
her lemon meringue pies,
job at Motown Records in Jersey,
slipping vinyl discs into sleeves.
Her back broken from osteoporosis,
her lungs smothered
in the black gum of night.
                                      Comes my mother Doris,
the brunette curls, hazel eyes, and wide hips
she gave me, her left-handed pitcher’s arm,
loud laughter, banana bread, and yes, those Christmas
cookies. The high blood pressure she fears
will, in some future year,
cast a long viscous shadow
over her words, still her limbs.
                                              They are all here
as I mix the syrup with flour and sugar,
nutmeg and cloves, as I roll and cut
and bake the deep brown dough.
And dusted white by day’s end,
I seem to walk with them
through rooms imbued
with the heart’s heady scent.

Julie L. Moore

is the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Full Worm Moon, which won one of five 2018 Woodrow Hall Top Shelf Awards and received honorable mention for the Conference on Christianity and Literature's 2018 Book of the Year award. A Best of the Net and five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she has also contributed to Alaska Quarterly Review, Image, New Ohio Review, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and Verse Daily. She is an associate professor of English and the writing center director at Taylor University, where she is the poetry editor for Relief Journal.