Finding the Baby

Since finding the baby in the slice
of King Cake nothing has been the same.
It’s not just about me anymore. There are—
new considerations. I can’t just run
around the country flying toward any dream
that takes momentary hold. Now, I am
grounded by my responsibilities. The baby
is almost translucent, with red hair and
my shape. The child I would have wanted.
Dinner out tonight will have to be cancelled.
The cake baby is cold and while he (?) doesn’t
need changing his arms are out. To think
I almost ate him, pierced him with the fork,
to be ground under my molars. I caught my-
self in time. A visiting friend has discovered the wonder
of patria stayputus. He wants to wake up to his
darlings every morning. What a birthday, Mardi Gras.
I who have never been a mother may now
proclaim it. A queen with a mouthful of cake
and a baby by the side of my plate, red-mouthed
and glowing as if in a fairy tale. So what the news
of the world since his birth? Who knows how
fortunate I really am. He is keeping me here
for a while to think things through. I think I will keep
him by the bedside. Make a crib of a small ring-
box for my Tom Thumb. And when he has grown
I will lick the last of the frosting from his hair
the way a cat might bathe her young Tom, readying
him for a world far more bitter than sweet.

Vievee Francis is the author of two books of poetry, Blue-Tail Fly (Wayne State University Press, 2006) and Horse in the Dark (Northwestern University Press, 2012). She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writing Award and a Kresge Fellowship. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Best American Poetry 2010 and Angles of Ascent, A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry.