I would have lied but the phone rang
as I was carefully measuring
baking powder, soda, salt.
I’m reading Anne Sexton,
I tell my mother. I have to, for a course.
The name rolls around like lemon seeds.
She repeats “Anne” carefully,
like she could crack a tooth on it.
You need to let it go, I want to say.
It happened forty years ago.
A thousand lemon cakes ago.
The oven timer chimes on cue.
Anne is such a plain name, she says,
Nothing good ever happens to any Annes.
I pour half a cup of sugar into lemon juice,
Watch it dissolve into Raggedy Ann,
Orphan Annie, and all the other doomed Ann(e)s –
the latest being Anne and her green gables.
(I used to be safe with her
until my mother went online and read
that L.M. Montgomery had killed herself.)
I divide the batter into two pans,
level them over with a knife.
Push them into the oven.
(I want to lick the wooden spoon
but my tongue is in a jar
sitting next to a row of maraschino cherries.)