An Education

By Molly Minturn

Featured Art: Still Life with Cake by Raphaelle Peale

It was spring and I walked
the streets in the late afternoon
with the best poet I knew.
She was tall with a severe face
like an early New Englander.
Her ancestors survived genocide.
We didn’t discuss our work, only
the weather, how the blossoms
were upsetting. The war was on.
We bought a hefty slice of cake
and walked slowly under a murder
of crows back to my apartment.
This seemed too evocative,
almost to the point of embarrassment.

The cake was coconut. We split
the slice, sitting at the small
table in my living room, away
from the sun. At the time,
it was the present. Here
in the future, I sometimes forget
to breathe, waiting
for the next catastrophe. That cake
was pure in its sweetness, the poet
alive with me, her eyes scanning
my face, both of our histories
neatly bound in our throats.
I wanted to ask if she was frightened
by living, by the change
in the light. Instead, she slid the plate
across to me, a Ouija planchette,
insisting I take the last bite.

Molly Minturn’s poems and essays have appeared in Boston Review, The Iowa Review, Sycamore Review, Bennington Review, the Toast, Indiana Review, Longreads, and elsewhere. Her poetry chapbook, Not in Heaven, was published by Southword Editions (2018). She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

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