May someone help me analyze the poem "Grape Sherbet" - Rita Dove?

I have to do a page of quickwrite, and even though I am a poet, I have no idea what this poem's about. I'm guessing about Rita's father's death?

So here's the poem, and hopefully someone can give me a 2 or 3 paragraph analysis on it:

The day? Memorial.

after the grill

Dad appears with his masterpiece -

swirled snow, gelled light.

We cheer. The recipe's

a secret and he fights

a smile, his cap turned up

so the bib resembles a duck.

That morning we galloped

through the grassed-over mounds

and named each stone

for a lost milk tooth. Each dollop

of sherbet, later,

is a miracle,

like salt on a melon that makes it sweeter.

Everyone agrees - it's wonderful!

It's just how we imagined lavender

would taste. The diabetic grandmother

stares from the porch,

a torch of pure refusal.

We thought no one was lying

there under our feet,

we thought it was a joke. I've been trying

to remember the taste,

but it doesn't exist.

Now I see why you bothered,

father.

THANKS!

4 Answers

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  • 1 decade ago
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    That is a tough one. Fortunately, if it's obscure to you, it's probably obscure to everyone else. All you have to do is come up with something plausible. I'll give you my reading of it, though:

    I don't think it's about her father's death. The memorial is for someone else. Probably the food from the grill is being served at the memorial. Dad has made his sherbet, that masterpiece of swirled snow, gelled light (really airy stuff).

    I'm assuming the narrators are children, or were at the time: that's why they're galloping through a graveyard so carelessly, and naming the stones for lost milk teeth (the unreality of death: your baby teeth [milk teeth] are not much of a loss, and bigger and better teeth take their place.) Children don't really know what death means.

    All of the above is more or less the basic meaning of the words. The third paragraph is where it gets more ambiguous, and I leave it to you to figure out what you want to extract from that. On a very general level, it seems like death is being implicitly compared with the sherbet. So insubstantial that it almost doesn't exist (as the person doesn't exist). Does it or doesn't it? Does it live on in memory (the sherbet, the dead)? Perhaps the dead live on in another sense? Is life worth bothering with if everyone must ultimately die? (now I see why you bothered, father).

    I know I'm being vague in that last paragraph, but it's poetry: it's meant to be vague. See what it means to you.

    Source(s): hope that helps somewhat
  • 6 years ago

    I know it's 6 years late, but the poem is about memorial day and them visiting a grave yard and how the kids didn't appreciate it until now.

  • 4 years ago

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    Grape Sherbet by Rita Dove The day? Memorial. After the grill Dad appears with his masterpiece— swirled snow, gelled light. We cheer. The recipe's a secret, and he fights a smile, his cap turned up so the bib resembles a duck. That morning we galloped through the grassed-over mounds and named each stone for a lost milk tooth. Each dollop of sherbet, later, is a miracle, like salt on a melon that makes it sweeter. Everyone agrees-it's wonderful! It's just how we imagined lavender would taste. The diabetic grandmother stares from the porch, a torch of pure refusal. We thought no one was lying there under our feet, we thought it was a joke. I've been trying to remember the taste, but it doesn't exist. Now I see why you bothered, father.

  • ramdev
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Grape Sherbet Poem

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