Tonight as candles flicker, she is sitting at the table
where her husband sat (before he passed away),
working on his daily crossword puzzles, seeming
most content although the nest they’d pieced
together gradually had emptied and grown quiet.
She remembers when her daughters,
chirruping like little birds, implored her please
to make their favorite cake named as a pie,
her famous Boston Cream.
Then busily she set to mixing butter, eggs; flour;
in other bowls, vanilla cream and chocolate glaze.
They liked it when she brought the china tea cups
from the cupboard and made a little party
just for them. . .
When all her birds had flown away, she tried to
cook and clean, pretending to be busy,
but really she just listened for their calls.
She saw her girls at holidays, but then when
they got married, the phone rang much less often.
And Christmas with them all was something rare.
Monotony hung heavy in the air.
No longer did she feel like baking cakes.
She faced the television while her husband
worked on puzzles and puttered round the house.
It seemed to her an effort just to breathe.
So then she’d go outside, buy groceries,
or stop and watch the children in the park.
A group of older ladies always flocked there
just like robins home for spring, twittering.
They’d beckon her to join them and chat.
But she just smiled, nodded, passed them by,
and wondered what could spark such animation.
For sadness now had settled over her.
It taxed her from her mornings to her nights,
sapping her of any old desires she once had.
And when her husband passed, she had no more
of sorrow left to cry.
So here she sits tonight beside the candles.
She thinks about the women in the park
and how they’d motioned to her just today.
A light inside her mind is flickering.
She rises from her chair, and flips a switch.
Her kitchen fills with light. She goes to where
for many years her cookbook lay untouched.
A harbinger, it opens to the place she’d often gone.
The weight of her dejection strangely lightens.
She gathers her ingredients and thinks about
the ladies; how she hopes they will react
when she gives her invitation, and
how cheerful they will be while sipping tea;
chirruping like girls, like little birds.
A stirring in her bones - this yearning to be free
kindling a rebellion -
the beginning of unburdening;
She starts to make her famous Boston Cream.