On one birthday when she was very thin,
he brought out, after much whispering,
a half-grapefruit set upon a platter.
It was their birthday cake platter–wooden,
painted with blue ribbon swirl, holes put in
careful spaces along its perimeter.
The lone half grapefruit balanced in the place
for cake; a pink candle centering its face
like a faded, twisted cherry, stretched out tall.
He looked at her with such worry, not
(she thought) for her condition, but to please. What
to give a child stuck in rigid refusal?
She’d disdain cake, she’d groan (he knew), oh Dad.
So, for her to weep, to get so very sad,
was quite unfair. I wanted to give you
something you would take, he said, as they sat
out in the car and he awkwardly pat
her arm, reaching for something flesh and true.