The Submarine Cakes
At the James Island Cub Scout Bake Sale and Auction,
we bid on cakes fathers and cubs had baked,
no female help allowed (except in cleanup).
Most cakes bore emblems: wolves with lolling tongues
of red-hot cinnamon, bears with jagged fangs
of candy corn, lions with licorice snouts.
Charleston's a Navy town, so there were frigates,
gray-frosted, with caramel anti-missile chaff,
root-beer barrel depth charges, and peppermint
fast-firing guns. But what I will remember all my life
were long, dark chocolate nuclear submarines:
hunter-killers with cupcake sonar bulbs,
Polarises with Oreo missile ports.
Marshmallow-hatted skippers rode conning towers
festooned with signal flags, surface-sailing in
to harbor, carrying fathers home. Those ships
were freighted with boys' dreams of joining men,
a magic timeless before that other boy,
Odysseus' son, assembled pirate fleets
of shoreline twigs to sail beside his father.
Sweet tributes, innocent art! The innocence shakes me,
as I have cringed at the tale of warrior angels
armed with fire to keep us out of Eden:
They'd stand like proud fierce children, pure and clueless,
staring across time's sink of violence.