chocolate cake in fall

we have chocolate cake for coffee
in a kitchen, smelling orange with a fading season &
i know your legs hurt when you move but–

you’re too busy to complain.

instead you smile and tell me,
tim stopped by last week &
you made pancakes for priscilla.

i never talk much when i’m here,

maybe because my world seems complicated
or maybe just to give you space
to tell me of the things that matter.

when i leave,
your week hangs on my cheeks
& in discarded kitchen corners,
sizzles on the 40 year old stove
(why should you buy a new one– it’s still working)
and creeps across the journals, stacked neatly on the corner seat.

a thin thread leads me into autumn,

between chocolate cake and warmth,
i’m tracing my fragility–

& the leaves pile high as i change lanes


my mom was already 40 when i was born…so she’s 83 now, lives next town and i usually visit her on saturdays for a cup of coffee and a chat..

it’s my great pleasure to tend the dVerse bar tonight…doors open at 3pm EST for a poetry party on the open mic..would be cool to see you there.. 


76 responses to “chocolate cake in fall

  1. such tenderness in your writing here claudia. i too am 40 and my wife and i are expecting a new bub any day now… exciting times ahead!!!

  2. It’s lovely that you get to see her once a week, even if you don’t share too much chat, she knows you go and she knows you care. I love the way you infused sight and sound into it.
    A lovely write Claudia.

  3. It sounds really pleasant. There’s a hint she’s constantly on the narrator’s mind throughout the week. Good things to match that sets up the poem right from the beginning and carries throughout: chocolate cake, coffee, scent of orange, autumn. Wonderful to read.

  4. This is very initimately done — direct, personal, informal and natural. Love the line “between chocolate cake and warmth” as well as how you put us in the setting of the poem so nicely from the very start:

    we have chocolate cake for coffee
    in a kitchen, smelling orange with a fading season

    Very well done!

  5. Hmmm so if my math skills are correct I now know your age, is that a bad thing?..haha

    Does sound like just a peaceful moment as you visit and connect, described so well and as you tend bar the cat won’t be too far.

  6. This is one of those poems that I could read and read and never get tired of. And oh, how I love the stanza beginning

    when i leave,
    your week hangs on my cheeks and
    in discarded kitchen corners,

    and every other exquisite image, the depth of feeling they hint at, and more. The poem reminds me of my own altered relationship with my mother, who just turned 93.

  7. I’m like Ruth on this one…I could read this one over and over…just to feel the warmth and love it engenders….thanks for such a fine poem to start my day.

  8. Beautiful! My mother and I are not close, but I think I will go and call my grandma now. (cry … )

    “too busy to complain”? (smile)

  9. My Mom is also 83 and slowing down quite a bit. My visits include stories repeated in the middle and the end. She has ten children that check in on her.
    I am working on a poem for her about puzzles…which is one of the things she enjoys to pass the time. She doesn’t talk much when I visit but when she does the words carry much weight. Thanks for sharing your visit!

  10. By the end of the first stanza I could tell this was about your mom. I really enjoyed it, and especially liked, “your week hangs on my cheeks”. I had my second child at forty; I hope I’m as peppy as your mom at 83.

  11. Exquisite…words close to my heart, Claudia. Love the imagery, love the feelings, the emotions even more. Beautiful piece of poetic cake 🙂

  12. when i leave,
    your week hangs on my cheeks…love it …and this between chocolate cake and warmth,
    i’m tracing my fragility…..I love it all. Reminds me when I would visit my mom…..

  13. Wonderfully descriptive Claudia! I loved the imagery which brought me right into the framework of the world you have so skillfully created!

    Now please, let’s “…have chocolate cake for coffee in a kitchen, smelling orange with a fading season.” Yummy! I want to be right there enjoying the food for the mind and senses!


    Roger ☺

  14. Bravo! Lending names to these characters really wakes up the imagery, inviting us to be that fly on the wall…wonderful writing as always!

  15. smiles…this is beautiful claudia…thank you for sharing her with us, sweet as chocolate cake with coffee…smiles. or maybe just to give space to tell me what matters….moms have a way of putting it into perspective…

    ps. now i know your age…smiles.

  16. Lovely in its simplicity. it ties age to everyday living, fall seems the natural time to be thinking of it, and the cake is just a bonus. Love the ending.

  17. I felt the weight of the poem reading it, especially liked the part about the complication of life, a burden not to share, for we choose not to open cans of worms.

  18. Wow, an 83-year-old mom! And still with her good working stove. Is she a poet too, those neat journals filled with the talent you both received?

    maybe I’ll have chocolate cake later.

    Always a treat to read your poems, Claudia!!


  19. This is a lovely, Claudia… I felt pulled into this place, conversation, and feel the emotion. What a precious time you have with your mom… and can still enjoy at 83. (I’ve just had a scare with one of my parents this week and I realized I wanted to record their voice telling some of their life story… I’m going to do so… so if you haven’t done so already… record your mom’s voice for you and your kids. 🙂 (Please forgive the unsolicited advice).

  20. I found this poem very evocative and reflective. I feel like I’ve been let in on a secret, I’m looking through the window on a scene of tenderness and telepathic intimacy which is rare and beautiful.

  21. Beautiful poem, lots of smells and tastes to take in. This stanza really caught my attention:

    “when i leave,
    your week hangs on my cheeks
    & in discarded kitchen corners,
    sizzles on the 40 year old stove”

    and “between chocolate cake and warmth,
    i’m tracing my fragility”

    Thanks for sharing.

  22. Hi Claudia

    You had me at chocolate coffee and orange, my three favorite textures and smells, what an awesome combination of texture to blast your way into the readers mind from the getgo.

    between chocolate cake and warmth,
    i’m tracing my fragility–

    & the leaves pile high as i change lanes


    Fine writing

  23. Oh Claudia! Even before I read your note at the end, I knew this was a personal one. I have a dad who’s quite frail…And well, *sigh*…our parents really do remind us of our own fragility. I think of the “leaves piling high” too and hope I can change lanes just that little bit faster when I’m their age.

    Beautiful poem, poignant too.

  24. Claudia, I recognized the relationship between you and your mom from early in this poem. The cake and coffee… something my mom and I used to do. We were close and when I’d call to say I was stopping over, she’d put the percolator on. The idea that she stays with you in so many ways after the visit? Mom is still with me every day, and she died 20 years ago, having had me at 36.

    So happy you have these extra years with YOUR mom! Amy

  25. Thanks for sharing this part of your life… I wish my parents live nearby but to visit them is a treasure and sometimes you just want to keep quiet and inhale in their quiet (and fragile) life…

    Happy day ~

  26. The sentimental avenue taken here was both fresh and touching. I have a friend who was born to then 44 year old parents, so that angle I’ve seen through him. The routine you have created, is firmly fastened to you, Saturdays, will always be a special day for you, as I’m sure they have been since the weekly trip has taken place. The food imagery to open up was not just an introductory bit, food has strong links to family and to social construct- awesome job here Claudia, really loved the piece, thanks:)

  27. Dear Claudia! This one was bitter sweet for me, since I took my father out to breakfast every Saturday for 14 years and enjoyed our hours together. But I seem to have wanted to believe in his continued capability, the strength of the father, and never noticed how he had begun to slide into incompetance. My sisters had moved a thousand miles away, and it was only when they came back for a visit did they identify the change and his need for greater care. He and I had shared breakfast burritos, steak and eggs and other hearty fare every week for years. But he had been so close and the decline was so gradual, it was only when they came from out of town that I finally saw his confusion and his tears. At age 68, he was still running an annual 10K, and never had reason to complain about his legs. He then moved closer to my sisters, in Colorado. And was gone from all of us forever within seven years. Winter comes too soon.

  28. Written with such care and affection for your subjects, as always, I think that is why I so resonate with your writing. My favourite part comes here :

    a thin thread leads me into autumn,

    between chocolate cake and warmth,
    i’m tracing my fragility–

    & the leaves pile high as i change lanes.

    It is just, simply, yummy!

  29. I am completely transfixed by this beautiful, simple work. Somehow it makes me feel a little lonely…”i’m tracing my fragility”…love this.

  30. you’re on a roll, Claudia– I see your voice emerging more with each write and the poems have a consistency of tone and language to them that unifies them— and fresh, lovely and compelling imagery– brava! xxxj

  31. Delicious in every way Claudia… smelling orange.. the warmth in those two words alone is enough to get high on…. Tender portrait of your mum…your relationship with her.. your own fragility.. One of my favourites of yours… riches.. 🙂

  32. “i never talk much when i’m here,

    maybe because my world seems complicated
    or maybe just to give you space
    to tell me of the things that matter.”

    the wonderful peace and freedom of listening…

  33. “the week hangs on my cheeks” what a line! Of course you had me with the chocolate cake and orange aroma at the get go…and that ending is incredible…still with me. Lovely work, Claudia!

  34. sounds like a typical mother daughter understanding ….a organised chaotic working kitchen the heart of the home and the smell of baking and chocolate cake to boot ! sounds like home to me ….thanks for sharing x x x

  35. You are so lucky, blessed, to have your mother, Claudia.

    This poem is poignant and there is a weariness to it. Lovely, and the imagery just flows…

    Lady Nyo

  36. “a thin thread leads me into autumn,

    between chocolate cake and warmth,
    i’m tracing my fragility”

    This is a beautiful description of transformation, moving from one creation to the next, one season to the next, one life to the next, becoming you all over again. I love this.

  37. Didn’t you tell me you need to get better at the ‘art of doing nothing?’ It’s right there in the heart of your poem so perfectly captured:

    i never talk much when i’m here,

    maybe because my world seems complicated
    or maybe just to give you space
    to tell me of the things that matter.

    That letting things go and feeling the “space” of the moment, that’s it. I’ve been getting into the music of Arvo Pärt and in a youtube video he talks with Bjork about this in terms of music, allowing a lot of space in the music.

    That last line speaks volumes about the contrast between your everyday life and your visits. The whole poem is perfectly and beautifully wrought.

  38. “we have chocolate cake for coffee”

    I love the first line, as if you 1) are having chocolate cake to make coffee happy or 2) Coffee is coming over for dinner, and you’re setting her up with Chocolate Cake to see if they’ll hit it off on their first date. 🙂

  39. claudia, this is so beautiful, and so real, i am in a place of taking care of my parents just now, my dad just had hip replacement surgery, my mom doesn’t drive…
    you touched on so much of what has been going through my mind and heart lately.

  40. I enjoyed the time with you .. spending there with your 83 year old mother.. your words took me to a long time back… where i used to hang around with my grandfather without speaking.. trying to find his thoughts .. his stories and memories…

    ‘maybe because my world seems complicated
    or maybe just to give you space
    to tell me of the things that matter.’

    I liked it. thanks for sharing,…

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya

  41. “we have chocolate cake for coffee

    when i leave,
    your week hangs on my cheeks
    & in discarded kitchen corners…”

    Hello! Claudia…
    Your words hang-out in my thoughts long after I leave your blog…your very poetic words today are very “bitter-sweet” a very “happy” moment shared…that turns into a moment Of reflecting on your time with your mother…Thanks, for sharing!