1 poem

by mary Ardery

This One Had A Sweet Tooth


It was late.     I was driving aimless loops in my hometown      when I saw her:     the ghost

of the girl who went missing.      She was standing at the stoplight      where you head east

out of town      her translucent thumb pulsing white in front of her.      I couldn’t tell               

if she was trying to make her way home      or get the hell out     but she buckled in

when I offered her a ride.      She gestured toward town      without speaking         

which was fine by me      because I drive to avoid      conversation.     I steered us past     

the abandoned Kmart      through the oak-lined college campus     and then    by the high school

we’d both attended.    She looked bored       until I pulled into the Dairy Queen

across the street.      The cashier gave me      a cookie dough blizzard     without even noticing

my passenger. They were closing down      and cleaning up.      I asked for two spoons

because I wasn’t sure       if death was contagious.    I’d never seen a ghost      eat before.

This one had a sweet tooth.      The cookie dough chunks traveled her throat      and settled

in her stomach like a bowl of marbles.      We continued cruising     windows down.

She loved the round-about      it’d been built after she disappeared        so I drove us around it

four times in a row     then parked and we laid in the grassy circle     like a work of living

art.      I said I was embarrassed that       the only constellations I knew      were the Big

and Little Dippers      and when I turned to see her reaction      she was gone.      In the grass

beside me        just a handful of cookie dough chunks           that I took home and baked.

The next night       I found her hitchhiking again      and offered her the chocolate chip

cookies in a tupperware container      that I assured her         she didn’t need to worry     

about returning.        She took them shyly      but I had a feeling she’d been waiting for them    

expecting them.      I had a feeling    she’d known I was someone     willing to bake cookies       

for any missing girl.


Mary Ardery

Mary Ardery is from Bloomington, IN. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Kettle Blue Review, The McNeese Review's Boudin, RHINO, and other journals. She is currently pursuing an MFA at Southern Illinois University. Visit her at maryardery.com.