Bakery at the Corner of Sweet Street and Regret
by Elizabeth Alford

We were on the edge of winter,
balancing our friendship like a plate
on the edge of a counter.

I was the counter.

But I could taste happiness from the street.
The warm, smile-inducing cinnamon and
eau de vanilla seduced not only my nose
but those of endless
passersby.

And the moment I stepped inside,
I knew I was in Heaven. A celebration
of cakes and cookies greeted me
like an old friend.
Every baked surface was draped
with ribbons of icing.
Even the walls were inviting;
my bulging eyes fell upon one close-up
of dripping red velvet atop a bed of
chocolate chips,
beckoning like a lover.
Fancily framed, majestically hued,
deserving of the Louvre—
if it had a kitchen.

I told her this joke; she was insulted.
The bakery was German-based.
That was the beginning of the end.

Across the street, a homely-looking van housed
a homely-looking hippie
named “Hippie Dan.”
I met him. Sweet guy, I thought.
Bright red beneath the brown,
like a cherry cordial.

I gave him most of my sticky bun.

I didn’t think to give him a toothbrush.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by a date at an actual bakery in Oakland, California. The name of it escapes me now, and I don’t even remember how to get there — but the sights and smells left a deep impression, as did that lovely homeless man parked across the street.

Alford

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Alford has always had an on-again-off-again relationship with Poetry; but in the wake of her graduation from CSU East Bay, she recently announced that they are going steady (much to everyone’s relief). She lives in Hayward, California, with her loving fiancé, mother, and two adorable dogs. Her favorite things include sushi, loud music on long drives, staring at the stars, and writing. She has been published twice in the student literary magazine Occam’s Razor, once as a third-place Donald Markos Prize winner in 2014.

PHOTO: Elizabeth Alford in her backyard (June 2015), not doing too badly after that bittersweet breakup.