Broadside of Perishables by Holly Iglesias.
In the final days of the war, a boy eats cake, a cake
from the saddest mother, a woman unaware that
her own son has bled into history, a history with
jaws that are soft and tropical, the greenest green,
not gray like Lake Erie in winter.
The cake sealed first in waxed paper, then gift wrap,
then a grocery bag dismantled with pinking shears,
the bundle tied with cotton string, her fingers recall-
ing the tiny buttons of his school shirts, the comb
dipped in water before parting his hair.
Mercy rains at every latitude, at each contested
parallel, rains anywhere that grunts line up for salt
pills, clean socks, for unclaimed parcels that go to
those who never get mail.
Cake sweetens the mouth of a boy the woman will
never meet, a boy who tastes in the kindness of
strangers the complications of survival, a boy who
in manhood will crumble each time he tells the tale.