Moon Cake

Moon Cake

For Mike

My sixteen year-old daughter wants
dessert at ten o’clock on a Friday night,
so right there & then, her dad tells her to grab
the baking recipe book, has her check
the cabinet & fridge for ingredients,
helps her assemble the list, & proceeds to haul
their two derrieres to the grocery store.

I come home, a bit cranky, from a mandatory
parents’ meeting at the kid’s acting school
about things I’ll be hard-pressed to remember,
to the exuberant sounds of eggs being cracked
on a mixing bowl’s rim, bags rustling, a ring
of plastic measuring spoons clacking together,
an ancient, unwieldy electric mixer splattering
sugared butter across the kitchen, & two voices
bantering in their exclusive dialect of contentment.

The oven signals the completion of its preheating cycle,
& the girl capably slides the glass bowl filled with
white batter—yes, they’ve even separated the egg yolks
from the whites at nigh eleven o’clock at night—to create
a cake in the shape of a half-sphere, which will, of course,
be covered with frosting (covered, to my mind, generally being
the operative word)—though, not just any frosting, you see,
but a certain grey shade of frosting, because this is not just
any cake now baking at long-past-eleven o’clock at night…

& so it remains for the half-sphere to be tipped out
of its Pyrex to cool in the vacuum of space; next, to be
bombarded with ice cream scoopers of multiple sizes
to simulate the impact craters on the satellite’s surface
(while wry husband offers me bites of “ejecta” to snack on);
& finally, for the halved planetoid’s pocked regolith to receive
its lifeless lacquer—at which point, awash in the lunar sunrise
of my daughter’s one o’clock in the morning smile, I will consider
the myriad aims of which I’ve spent my decades falling short;
that is, until I suddenly have the presence of mind to realize,
by god, I’ve done something right in this life—

the precious girl I brought into this world
has a dad who can give her the moon.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

“Moon Cake” was drafted during the May 2017 Tupelo Press 30/30 project.

The Shadow Tendrils

The Winter Solstice has traditionally been a time of reflection (both figuratively and literally!), particularly with the coming of the New Year. We decorate our environs with brightly colored lights and candle flames, or adorn evergreen trees (which, unlike us, don’t go dormant in the dark, cold months) with light-reflective crystal and metallic ornaments, in an effort to remind ourselves of all that is good, beautiful, and right with our lives, and to spur ourselves on to tweak and futz with aspects that could benefit from a change.

Today, I stumbled across this Villanelle I wrote several years ago smack dab in the middle of summer just after a Hawaiian vacation… It gives me pause to reflect on the ways that light can so easily be obscured by shadow without a good tweaking now and then… May Love and Light be with you all this Holiday Season, and always!

I sat deep in thought for a good, long while
beneath the shadow of a banyan tree
whose tendrils sought the river of denial

and reached the furthest edges of my isle.
Though entirely surrounded, I was free.
I sat deep in thought for a good, long while.

Bird calls damped in the darkness did beguile
from untold hollows looming in that tree,
whose tendrils sought the river of denial.

My mind climbed a high, winding cliff-top stile
to a fog-cloaked abode above the sea.
I sat deep in thought for a good, long while.

But my heights and depths could not reconcile
paths masked by the twilight’s shadow in me,
whose tendrils sought the river of denial.

Hid by its veil, my soul’s begrudging smile
stayed swathed in shadows of the banyan tree.
I sat deep in thought for a good, long while,
while feeding from the river of denial.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

banyan_tree_kauai