She sits in the back corner of the cafe
Like a well-worn fifth edition
Of the Betty Crocker Cookbook
Greasy paged, notes scribbled in the margins
Open to the recipe for tater-tot casserole
And how to stretch hamburger
To feed a hungry family
Only now the children are gone
They’ve grown up and left the kitchen
She stares at the pictures
Of birthday cakes
She has made every one
Through the years
The cat cake, the balloon cake,
Orange and Devil’s food
Carrot and Angel
Memories flood her lined forehead
Of plump toddler fists
Covered in icing
And little open mouths
Munching on morsels
How she loved feeding them
And decorating those cakes
Each one a proud testament
Of a mother’s love
But today there are no mouths to feed
She wonders if she should buy
A “Cooking for One” cookbook
But she doesn’t want to spend the money
So she sits unobserved
A faded, red and white checked volume
Of meals for happy families
What will she do now?
Time stretches out before her
Like a wispy, white cloud of oblivion
She takes a bite of a cafe cookie
It tastes too salty
Washed with her tears