till it started to taste of something new and strange and far away

I find this Mark Irwin poem quite peculiar and yet so lovely and unexpected.

“A vanilla cake,”

with vanilla frosting, he’d made himself, he took
to his mother who lived alone on the mountain, where he walked
up the snowy steps under the masked pines. “Happy Birthday,” he said,
as crouched, she walked and set it on the empty table surrounded
by chairs and dozens of photographs. Where are they? she wondered,
making coffee, lighting a candle as her son made a fire, his hair the color of ice,
she thought as they both sat down, the cake between them, into which
they buried their hands, touching. “It’s still warm,” she said. “Yes,” he said,
as the wax dripped from the tall candle, and they talked. “How are things
in the valley?” she asked. “Still green,” he said, “Good, good,” she said,
as they began to feed each other with their fingers, closing their eyes,
making wishes as the stars blazed through the big window, snow blowing
from the eaves as they ate, telling of the past, then moments of the present–
the weather and the heart–continuing to eat bigger handfuls, their faces white,
       smeared, till
it started to taste of something new and strange and far away.

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One thought on “till it started to taste of something new and strange and far away

  1. I love this piece! It instantly captured my imagination. I saw a little old lady with long hair rolled up in a bun. She lived her (last) years/days in a medium sized log cabin in the mountains with her husband, who’d passed more than 10 years ago. She had other children, but they either were too far away or already dead, or maybe just no longer cared. She never expected to see her son when he showed up but his greeting instantly triggered their ‘ritual’ with the cake. I thought she might have Alzheimer’s disease, a condition I am professionally associated with as a nurse. My chosen favorite kind of patients. My, my…the tears just won’t stop flowing the more I think of this, so I will stop now. Thank you for sharing this moment in time. A beautifully written treasure of poetry!

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