back when Grandmother had one breast and i had none
she helped me realize strange visions,
the particulars only a child conjured.
i asked for a birthday pie shaped like a fish
not a fish pie
but a sweet one.
i’d seen it in a movie about witches and kindness, pulled out of a wood fire oven.
Grandma imbued the pastry with stripes and flakes and berries
Raspberry, maybe? can’t remember the taste
but i held the photograph of me and berry pie, berry pie and i, and not her
i was wearing a blue dress, red berries were bubbling out between baked brown
i let her carry it because it was too heavy.
There was another visit, after the berry fish pie but before the
cherry chocolate cake
i was sitting at the small table for eating, my right knee brushing the back of the couch
i think my parents were there this time.
i watched Grandpa slipping fat and gristle from His plate to the dog
it might have had white fur with a large black spot
or maybe a labrador
Anyway, He slipped the fat to the dog, and then He barked at me– my Grandpa barked, not the dog– for wiping my hands on the tablecloth.
Then i was older, and i asked for a cherry rimmed chocolate cake for my birthday.
It was proper, just like little girls think they want.
my cousin was there, i think
she was young and blonde and cherubish, and had a flush on her cheeks just like those cherries.
This time, in the photograph, i held the cake between my Grandmother and i: a perfect succulent circle, with a fence of red. they were so perfect they looked like shiny wax. my Grandma’s curls were the color of a stony shell, or maybe a sprig of wheat on black and white film. not quite silver, warmer than that.
i didn’t even like cherries, but i liked the idea of liking cherries
Artwork courtesy of Studio Ghibli