she rose early to parse

flour through a dented, aluminum

sieve. Three eggs tapped &

cracked against an unfaithful

porcelain bowl.– Chipped; Whisking

the batter with a hairpin wrist. It was always sulfur-

yellow & forced into a bunt

shape too early; Odd creators missing

from where the air tried to escape–

she could never get it right &

what could we say to her? Pulling the tin

from the oven-, heavy, doughy,

& the frosting she’d whip into a grainy

paste; spread too soon, thinning & dripping

into a curdled puddle.

I never saw her dip a finger deep

& place it into the neglect

of her mouth; Her hands

forever running themselves clean along an apron.

This is how she celebrated her birth: slicing &

serving her children a thing she made

also out of convention.

A sterling knife reflecting the disaster

in quick flashes as it divided

our portions into massive, misshapen hunks.

& she would watch our forks lift

to our lips; Trembling, Mimicking

our purse & swallow. Her empty mouth

held by some interior gate that kept her

wanting; The way a dog paws

at a screen door, begging for—still, I don’t know what.