“When the cat’s away, the mice …”
they said, with a knowing wink, but
there was no play and you left me
with an emptiness I couldn’t fill.
It was our daughter’s fourth birthday.
She and I baked a cake, though to tell
the truth, I did little more than watch
and all encouragement from the side
-lines. So competent, she was, I called
her ‘Mother Two’ when she told me to
do all the things she wanted me to do.
Her cake turned out fine. She used
a whole packet of icing sugar, layered
so thick there was more icing than cake.
It was just a bit liquid too, and we could
not be bothered to wait until it cooled.
Drinking hot tea, munching a slice of
her birthday cake, I sang a line or two
of Happy Birthday and then fell silent
as I wondered what you would be doing.
Later, we fed tiny cake crumbs to the dogs
who sat there, begging, not wanting their
own food, drooling, missing you, just like us,
and all of us waiting for you to come home.