Red Velvet

The cake collapsed. It toppled slowly,
so slow that at first we did not hear the thick tectonic slide,
or see the deep fissure emerging.
It had been five hours since we rolled up our sleeves
and applied our baking faces. Sarah was still
hung over from some church festival
or another, and I had spent the morning digging through cardboard boxes
to find the pans. We were wilted in the rising sunlight
but applied ourselves gamely. And here was this catastrophe,
this cave-in, this horror of a birthday surprise. The cake slid sensuously
toward the floor.

I called you in,
like I did when the floor was on fire in our first apartment. “Honey?”
I said. It might not have been urgent enough. “You probably should see this.”
The top layer of cake accelerated and we remained rooted to the spot.
Years ago the old me watched the flames bingeing on linoleum tiles,
my lips parted, my arms slack.

photograph by flickr user in my shoes

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