As I prepare breakfast for the kids
I dribble pancake batter onto the griddle
to test its heat. When the batter takes

the form of a question mark on its own
I know my late wife is in the room.
I’ve been expecting her to return

ever since the day we sent her into
the fire, for she never allowed me
the last word, so I drizzle Zoe?

with batter onto the griddle. When I
flip it over that pancake looks just
like a kiss. I dribble Ms U in response

with the batter, and when I turn over
those words it clearly reads Ms U 2. I begin
to reply U+Me 4 evr with the batter,

but the kids notice I’m acting
oddly and give me that look that means
they too are starving, and not for

pancakes, so I ditch our conversation.
I know that if they caught on, nothing
I could do would prevent the burns they

would receive from hugging that hot griddle
until it is again cold and lifeless.
Me? I have the oven mitts.