Karen An-hwei Lee




My friend’s spouse of nine years left for a masseuse.
Fodder for your poetry, she said, dryly. In silence,
I baked a luscious ginger chocolate olive oil cake.

Grief is rich as chocolate and olives. I mixed the oil,
unbleached flour, and the darkest, pure cacao in a tin
at the open air market. Cups of vinegar, cold water.

Richer than the wells of a rejected love, kissed pits
of olives, of thousand-year eggs with ammoniac suns
bathing in vats of horse urine, aged in urns of ash,

sorrow leavened with cacao pods orbiting the moon.
While sap rises in the xylem of maples, a sealed jar
of cacao blossoms wails, airless. Sitting in a muddy

kitchen, my friend rails against her fate. This hurts
like a pair of scissors opening in her throat. I slice
cake and slide it onto a dish. After a pause, she forks

a mouthful, then sighs, no use crying over spilled milk.
Get me a glass. Cool this burning sludge of lava cake,
six yolks beaten with heavy cream, a spoon’s nocturne

of ginger chocolate ganache trussed in velvet, mousse
cake richer than gravity itself, than the darkest topsoil
in northern forests, than the solanaceous nightshades,

than glowing skins of aubergines or ground cherries,
– gooseberries, Chinese lanterns – and of a frightfully
young belladonna who took her spouse of nine years.


Photo Credit: Staff