What Is Rita Dove’s Poem “Grape Sherbert” About?

“Grape Sherbert,” a poem by Rita Dove, is about the writer’s memories of her deceased father. The author retells Memorial Day with her father and the wonderful taste of the sherbert that he made for her. Dove talks about how she can never recreate the taste of this sherbert, so wonderful memories are all that she has left of her father.

Although it seems like sweet reminiscing, this is ultimately a poem about death. Grape sherbert is a food that Dove associates with her childhood and her father, and the food left a mark on her in his passing.

The food was a point of pride for her father, and it delighted his family; it was a rare treat that Dove now wishes she could go back to enjoying.