Graphic by Yasmine Slimani/MiC.

where do sweet things go?

tucked under tongues, sucked until flavorless?

twirled in a wrapper, tight and taut like a cocktail dress?

blessing mouths, sending waves of soft sugar — a storm,

and it’s cold when you’re swallowed,

but sealed lips keep you warm.

what do sweet things do?




sublime in the way they flip their hair

or bat their eyes 

so when he makes you cry, is that 


do runny noses mean honey?

can biting your tongue so hard you taste blood give you a cavity?

when does sweet ask questions?

after a night of sugar rush, wrapper crumpled,

do you wonder if his teeth ache like your body does?

was angel food cake a last meal on death row?

when you rise from the dead, 

half alive,

rubbing eyes,

and you just taste metal,

and rot,

and him, still, somehow,

even after scrubbing,

and nothing 

ever lets itself taste sweet again.

when does sweet end?

when does hard candy stop melting in mouths and decide to 

just be hard?

does sweet end when tainted teeth can’t bite down anymore,

or before?

does sweet end when china doll meets hardwood floor?

when does sweet start tasting more like acid than truth?

when a curt, sour face stains your porcelain-skinned youth?

when the tenderness bleeds into burning red hurt?

when you’ve spent twenty years being someone’s dessert?

when she knows each ambrosia-seeped, sweet word of praise, 

led to bruises, and fevers, and that gnawing malaise, 

does she laugh the way sweet was always taught to?

does she hate herself more than she could ever hate you?

it’s a rotten thing, really, the way saccharine stings.

it’s just rotten what becomes of all the sweet things.

MiC Columnist Yasmine Slimani can be reached at