Cold Solace

When my mother died,

one of her honey cakes remained in the freezer.

I couldn’t bear to see it vanish,

so it waited, pardoned,

in its ice cave behind the metal trays

for two more years.


On my forty-first birthday

I chipped it out,

a rectangular resurrection,

hefted the dead weight in my palm.


Before it thawed,

I sawed, with serrated knife,

the thinnest of slices —

Jewish Eucharist.


The amber squares

with their translucent panes of walnuts

tasted — even toasted — of freezer,

of frost,

a raisined delicacy delivered up

from a deli in the underworld.


I yearned to recall life, not death —

the still body in her pink nightgown on the bed,

how I lay in the shallow cradle of the scattered sheets

after they took it away,

inhaling her scent one last time.


I close my eyes, savor a wafer of

sacred cake on my tongue and

try to taste my mother, to discern

the message she baked in these loaves

when she was too ill to eat them:


I love you.

It will end.

Leave something of sweetness

and substance

in the mouth of the world.

Bibliographical info

Anna Belle Kaufman "Cold Solace". Copyright © 2010 by Anna Belle Kaufman. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Source: The Sun, issue 417

Start here: