barbel amos

by Lisken Van Pelt Dus

This morning it is cool in the house with bright sunshine outside, as it was when I would come home from school, my sneakers tapping lightly on the whitewashed steps I ran up to the kitchen, to find Gloria and the lemonade she had just finished squeezing, mixing in sugar with a long wooden spoon clicking against the sides of the tall jug, her smile turned to me, her white apron crisp over her green-and-white striped cotton dress, and light pouring through the space, filtered through a blue-tiled screen, the bright coolness a refuge from the heat outside, my blouse as I ran a billowing curtain, white like her apron and the plastered ceiling and walls rising around us, me and Gloria, smiling as she poured me a drink, the glass of the blue tumbler ridged and smooth in my small hand, her brown hand small, too, her smile bright, hair pulled back in a ponytail, as it always was, dark hair shiny and straight like the love she offered me, the lemonade sweet and the pulp bursting.

IMAGE: “Lemonade,” painting by Barbel Amos. Prints available at


AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Age five,  several years earlier than the poem’s setting, but you can see I already took my snacks seriously.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Gloria” came out of a challenge to write a prose poem about someone who exerted some kind of influence on a younger you. What more influential than lemonade? The scene is from Mexico; I was nine.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisken Van Pelt Dus is a poet, teacher, and martial artist, raised in England, the US, and Mexico, and now living in Massachusetts. Her work can be found in such journals as Conduit, The South Carolina Review, qarrtsiluni, and upstreet, and has earned awards and honors from The Comstock Review, The Atlanta Review, and Cider Press Review. Her chapbook, Everywhere at Once, was published by Pudding House Press in 2009, and her first full-length book, What We’re Made Of, is due out from Word Tech Publications’ Cherry Grove imprint in May 2016.