Dance of the Cakes

By Terry Alan Kirts

after Wayne Thiebaud

The cakes dance and they dance and dance	
triple-tiered ballerinas pirouette down aisles of cream 	
a pink cheek turns a tango’s luscious corner
little empire of icing with its strawberry-crowned queen
tended by a court of white wedges, ladylike under 
layers of sugar and lace, crinoline and buttery crumb
watch them as they curtsy and waltz, sway on their gay plates
lemon chiffon leers from the bakery case at her audience of tongues
billows of angel food threaten custard floods
here’s a grandmother’s fantasy: all the dainty babes laid out in rows
a ribbon on a chin, a lock of chocolate curling down the brow
rosy bottoms powdered and powdered past rouge 
to where the spankings turn soft, sponges to a purple bruise 
and this is what came down when there wasn’t enough: 
black forests creeping with sweet creatures
cords of red velvet coiled tight as clotted hearts 
your teeth won’t survive this bite of alabaster
crystalline kiss, the blade of violet or rose
back home the bakeries were all about bread
yeast of wheat rising, yeast of the pleading souls
but here’s what the city has in store for you
little boy with your breath fogging the shop windows:
all your phantom urges lacquered fast behind fudge
and who is mindful of your gluttonies, patron saint
of pastries casting his glance across the counter
take your baker’s dozen back to mama 
skip and leap and smack your sticky lips 
knock a frosted knuckle on a succulent knee 
while the cakes dance and dance, dance and dance.
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About Terry Alan Kirts

Terry Kirts is the author of To the Refrigerator Gods, which was chosen for the Editor’s Choice series in poetry by Seven Kitchen’s Press in 2010. He is a faculty member in creative writing at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis where he directs the Rufus & Louise Reiberg Reading Series. His poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in such journals as Third Coast, Gastronomica, Sycamore Review, Green Mountains Review, and Another Chicago Magazine, as well as the anthologies Food Poems and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana. His culinary articles and restaurant reviews have appeared in WHERE Indianapolis, Indianapolis Woman, Nuvo, and Indianapolis Dine, and he is currently the dining critic for Indianapolis Monthly.

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