First you need great bowls
and a big spoon. Measuring
is easier with Nana’s teacups
the ones graduated
to your kitchen after her funeral.
It was all you wanted.
She used no recipe for lemon cake,
taught you to measure the heft
of flour in your palm, to see
how much lemon juice fills
the teacups, to know a pinch
from a smidgeon just by feel.
A pinch of cardamom, one
of nutmeg, a dusting of poppy seeds
over the wet mixture. She mixed
clockwise, said the sun travels
that way and helps the mixture
to rise just so to the rim of the pans.
For frosting, a package
of softened cream cheese, a splash
of vanilla and one of lemon juice.
Whip in half a hand of sugar
with the egg beater she got
as a wedding present in 1926.
Later, sit in your chair by the window,
listening to the rain come in gasps,
you will know her love is in the recipe
she never wrote out, the one pressed
into your hands, and in the teacup
you use tonight for tea.
Smell the lemons, smell her verbena.