Sometimes poetry feels like magic. It carries us away like a daydream.
But sometimes, poetry captures the beauty of the most ordinary, day after day, pieces and parts of a regular life, making them feel like magic. That’s what Fuller does here, in her poem, “Today”. She speaks of common activities, canning and sweeping, polishing and embroidering.
But in the middle of this simple poem, she stops me with, “I have baked a sunshine cake.”
And I sit in my everyday living room contemplating, what is a sunshine cake? Is there such a thing? How does it taste? Lemon? Butter? Banana?
I wonder if it’s like my childhood favorite–Angel Food Cake frosted with whipped cream and sliced strawberries.
Maybe it’s that Paula Deen Chocolate Ganache cake I used to bake for baby showers? The one on which I’d pile a handful of stunning pink roses?
Or maybe baking a sunshine cake has nothing to do with baking a cake.
Maybe it’s a metaphor for a way of seeing beauty within the chaos of even the most ordinary days.
I hope that one line stays with me a while, and changes my approach to the usual, regular, typical moments in my life. At the end of each day, I want to look back and say, Today I have baked a sunshine cake. Today I have lived a poem.
by Ethel Romig Fuller
I have spread wet linen
On lavender bushes,
I have swept rose petals
From a garden walk.
I have labeled jars of raspberry jam,
I have baked a sunshine cake;
I have embroidered a yellow duck
On a small blue frock.
I have polished andirons,
Dusted the highboy,
Cut sweet peas for a black bowl,
Wound the tall clock,
Pleated a lace ruffle…
I have lived a poem.
Today I have rubbed four “little” backs in the dark,
hugged and hustled and sent them off to school.
I have laundered football jerseys, stacked dishes,
and found 38 tiny green army men a home within my own.
I have sipped black iced tea, checked email,
spread creamy white cheese on a mini bagel.
I have read a chapter and written a poem,
prayed for my little people and laughed at words they said yesterday.
I have watered flowers on the front porch and pinched away the dead,
watched a show and cried at the beauty of a graduation speech.
I have made new to-do lists, and spoken with friends over Voxer.
I have picked up and put away, clicked these keys away,
sat on hard bleachers squinting at the soccer sunshine.
I have blared an old song with the deck door wide open.
I’ve danced with my whole heart, first together, then alone.
Today I have lived a poem.
How have you lived a poem today? Maybe you should write your own version of “Today”.