Before she died, she wore an orange ruffle
to her 100th birthday party,
now photographs on the walls,
earth-tone paintings, the same shade
as a coverlet thrown across her queen-sized bed
where I watch cooking programs
until I fall asleep,
holed up in her town-house
near the Catalina Mountains,
two suitcases and a computer,
an escapee on the run.
By some small grace,
on New Year’s Day,
I find a letter from my mother
addressed to my aunt.
She is telling a story:
First, let me give you my recipe…
Everyone praised my mother’s cake,
strong coffee and honey
as amber as the windows of a synagogue
with eggs enough for a big breakfast,
cinnamon and cloves, raisins, butter,
sweetness to celebrate the Jewish New Year.
On the same day you sent
a text asking me how to cook rice,
a simple thing when you know how to do it:
water measured in cups or joints of the finger,
grains rinsed beneath the faucet, a rattle
like the sound of the ocean’s undertow
pulling us apart.