By Claire Bateman

Featured Art: Still Life with Cake by Raphaelle Peale, 1818

You can never speak of the cake that rises up
without implying the cake that sinks into itself,
languorous as liquid glass;

the cake that’s all scaffolding and prestidigitation,
so precisely calibrated,
you must not even whisper in its presence;

and the inversely incendiary cake,
candles ablaze in its hollow center.

To attempt to do otherwise
would be like trying to extricate
taste from the tongue,
duration from time,
the world from the world.

This is not to say, however,
either that all cakes are one,
or that there is only one cake,

for each, sculpted out of
everything it is not,
embodies a largesse
particular to itself,

especially the event-horizon cake
that the fork never reaches,
known also as the cake
of ineluctable sweetness.

Claire Bateman is the author of WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD forthcoming from 42 Miles Books, and eight other poetry books. She has been awarded Fellowships from the NEA, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and has received the New Millennium Writing Award (twice) and two Pushcart Prizes. She has taught at the Greenville Fine Arts Center, Clemson University and various conferences, including Bread Loaf and the Bloch Island Poetry Festival. She is also a visual artist.

Originally appeared in NOR 20.

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