Wrapped in foil on the cold back porch, the porous nooks and crannies

with honey, soaked in rum, the cakes turned black with nuts and berries,

candied fruit, desiccated, glazed and scented by cardamom,

or whatever else was dug from the bottom of the pantry. Heavy

and indestructible, the gooey preserves of a holiday at approach, another


soaked refuge for a teetotaler’s rum. And the women who compared

their artistry, or failing that, the mere obsession for adding more,

adding like bits of words, the choked, broken parses of speech, gossip’s

gooey subterfuge, the bitter they took from the sweet, the awful

comparisons and jealous green of the chewy, glowing condiments, red sour


cherries, and all that seemed scraps from their day’s journey through

carpools and bridge and bean snaps in chicken salad served at the club.

Why hermit? Though to live withdrawn in perfume and negligee

silence, inside boxwood hedges at the edge of noon, was to show

their sweet, weighted burden under honey-brown skins,

their bodies baked under rays of coastal light, where husbands


rented summer homes, played adultery after hours, bored themselves with golf.

This mix as discordant as the past, layered black and nut, blanched white

in spun confections, jeweled globes, antique and dark resins stained as

wood, an admiring “awe” from the women at the tables who cut

through the hard loaf with a certain greed, each close-packed slice come of

infinite doting, a wedding treat meant to survive, fermented, acrid, dry.