Bake a Salty Cake

for Celia Belle Speak Steward (1897-1992)

I bake a salty cake
of chopped shrimp, jalapenos
mushrooms and cheese
top with a dollop
of olive mayonaise
with ground pepper sprinkles
follow with sweet sticky rice
buttered with raisins
nuts and dried apricot
patted into a spontaneous
dense design

main course complete
my guest Celia Belle
begins to tell
the latest of her Asia
China missionary tales
I pour us cups
of hot spice tea
put a compress on her knee
and we’re ready to start
the business of dessert:
We’re reviewing edible books!
Apple Tart by Erin Maurelli
Dark Chocolate Tablets
by Melissa Morton
Liz Crooks’ sugar cookie book

at evening’s ebb
all books are bitten
pages are missing
contents devoured
we’re plump with ideas
and texts’ temptations
bound by chocolate
and the art of tea
we languish in the silence
of bellies overstuffed
hushed in the sigh
of green apple chapters
and poetry in pastry

a night divine, a night sublime
Celia Belle closes her eyes
I check her 82-year-old face
and before she wakes
I smile to myself
to sing a silent song of praise
for as soon as we stand up
we’re gonna cha-cha for days
all the way back
to the dreams we can taste
all the way home
with leftover salty cake

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