Recipe no. 2: Sumida River Empty Cake

(Listen to the poem here)




First buy a ring cake,

which you will not eat.

A chance to buy a flavour you don’t like.

Cut out the middle hole, be small

and try to take forever. Think that

a mouse is lapping up Sumida river.

Discard the cake, carry the hole,

use all your fifty fingers, carefully,

within the skein there can be dreams.

Put in a baking tin.

If you don’t have one

put it in one you haven’t got.

Ease breath into a straw.

Stretch out the hole until

the tin is full of emptiness.

Place in the oven.

Sit on the floor and watch.

Are those clouds floating through your kitchen?

It will not tell you when it’s ready,

one day it’s Spring

and then one day it’s Summer.

Wait gently under

time’s slow waterfall.

Untry to be unwashed by it,

unwish yourself from catching

fish and figments in the air

until your hands stop grabbing

and your fingers are just ripples

upon which you float out

into the flow of things.

And then you’ll hear

the sound of wings.

Look to your window:

the seasons and the world

do not come knocking

at our front doors.

Two swallows will be there.

Summer has surely come.

Clap with one hand.

Half-self congratulations.

It’s done.

Serves none.



Phillip Hill 2008

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(This poem is included in my book The Observation Car which is available from

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