Birthday Cake

You remember when ma
Walked from behind the curtains
A cake frosted with pink flowers
Placed delicately
On a black tray?
A knife tied with a ribbon
And all the children
Gathering in a small circle
Their potato-chips-and-chowmein-filled plates
Making way
for a slice of cake

Something about the memory
Pastel wax candles
in between cherries
Is hardwired into my brain.
I stand in my kitchenette
Midnight in a foreign city
Hands flour-coated, sugar-dusted
And wait
for a thin float
Of the old vanilla birthday cake
To rise in the oven