By: Kindra McDonald
Whenever a recipe says to fold an ingredient I think of origami and the slow and deliberate folding of paper, corner to corner, the creasing that makes wings, or beaks, or clever tufts of feathers that can fan. A therapist once showed me how a crane could be a wish. I often do things I know will hurt me like eating dough raw, eggs barely blended into flour, as if salmonella’s stomach cramps would be a welcome
respite from this numbness. Sometimes when I’m slicing tomatoes I think of how the knife would feel on my wrist, how breaking the skin would be as satisfying as the snap of a string bean the cut of the cucumber into perfect cold slices and it’s hard to change that thought. Now, though I’m folding egg whites into batter for angel food cake. A cake that I have eaten, (somehow without tasting), after every funeral I have ever been to and because we can’t have funerals right now, I am making this cake that I know will hurt me. My stomach growls as the angel food rises. I’m startled to find I feel—
I do know how.
Kindra McDonald is the author of the books Fossils and In the Meat Years, (both in 2019) and the chapbooks Elements and Briars (2016) and Concealed Weapons, (2015). She received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. She is an Adjunct Professor of Writing and teaches poetry at The Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, VA. She serves as Regional VP of the Virginia Poetry Society and was the recipient of the 2020 Haunted Waters Press Poetry Award. She lives in the city of mermaids with her husband and cats where she bakes, hikes, and changes hobbies monthly.
"Food often plays a large part in my writing, simply because there are so many emotions tied up for me in both the preparation of food and the consumption of it. This poem was written after the death of a friend whose funeral was planned for late March 2020 and quickly shuttered due to the pandemic. This poem comes from a place of feeling all of this collective grief all at once and not knowing how to channel it. I often bake when I'm wrestling with something emotionally. Since angel food cake is something inextricably linked in my mind to funeral food, the poem just found its way to the surface."