WHITE CAKE
by Annie Schumacher  

White Cake

I don’t remember the taste of my wedding cake.
Afterwards, we froze the top tier in mom’s garage
to eat in one year, our stale sugary keepsake.
It was white, of course, with roses to match my corsage.
Atop a silver platter, it wilted in the sun,
indifferent to the vows we made. The cake was there
to make merry, despite what we had just done.
I danced with my new husband, smiling mild as a pear.
Thank you for coming, thank you for coming, we chimed –
my dress drug through the mud and grass. Oh Annie.

Altars

fallen moon-tears
turned and churned by the surf
take mineral form and
whirl on to the shore

we lay on our bellies
like elephant seals
wrapped in beach blankets
in between driftwood and seaweed

waves roll behind us
sand shifts underneath us
rocks peppered with barnacles
and urchins enclose us

we comb
through a thousand pebbles
white bone shells
sea glass, nicked sand dollars

we stow away milky moonstones
to cork in bottles with ocean air
fated to adorn
our bathroom sinks

The Cherry Trees

One April my brother and I bought a pair of cherry trees in plastic containers. A gift for Mom and Dad, a gift for the ranch. Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, here’re two more things to grow. A single cherry tree is self-unfruitful; most cherries must be pollinated with compatible cherry trees in order to bear their stoney fruit. Two more trees to drop amongst the gopher holes, ant piles, dead dogs. Dad planted the two cherry trees between the rose garden and the strip of pines, in front of the fence Portuguese men built, over Buttercup’s worn footpath. He docked them side by side, with a wide view of Lincoln Avenue. My brother and I bought the cherry trees after hasty marriage vows, when the almond orchard was young. My brother and I bought the cherry trees before the drought, when the valley’s lakes and ponds and dams were still stocked with Sierra snow melt. My brother and I bought the cherry trees while we were lying through our teeth, driving big American cars, not looking ourselves in the eye. Sometimes we sped up to San Francisco, finding temporal comfort in changing our names and hiding our wedding rings. One of the cherry trees died in the drought. Roots weren’t deep enough. Dad bought another seedling last April. I don’t live around there anymore.

A Walk Through La Almudena Cemetery

A name dissolved some years ago.
Does she watch as I speculate,
a wind-nymph whose breath through elm trees blows?

Ghost-breeze gusts by as though she’s late
before I know it I’m swept through the gate.
A weathered man holds daisies, pulls up his hood —
petals bounce, petals sway, petals white, featherweight

together with the nymph, they dance all through the elmwood.
Feather-wind takes their scent as far as she could
no te olvidamos the flowers sigh.

Driving with Tessa

I reconnect with you twice a year.
On the west road from Kerman to Fresno, all squared off by almond groves
your little secrets fill my ear.

In your lap rests another Spanish souvenir:
a box of chocolates bedecked with something flamenco.
I reconnect with you twice a year.

You sip iced coffee, I shift into fourth, fifth gear.
And while the valley’s sun burns low
your tender secrets fill my ear.

Does Grandpa Scott still grow mandarins around here?
Who gave you that pretty necklace, with its golden glow?
I reconnect with you twice a year.

The moving car is our own celestial sphere
curbside, spell’s broken, we’re parked, locked, ready to go.
I reconnected with you twice this year,
your little secrets filled my ear.

About the Author:

Annie Schumacher is a poet based in Madrid. She is the Director of Public Relations at The Unamuno Author Series, where she is helping execute Madrid’s first anglophone poetry festival in 2019. She is originally from Fresno, California.

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