Baking Bread One Morning of My Country’s Dying
All night they have been rising
two mounds of dough
in silver bowls.
Covered in separate sheets,
curves arching against the cloth.
The kitchen smells of their deep breathing.
Preparing a family breakfast,
We'll send him a loaf, she says,
plunging into the dough.
It will mold before it gets there.
He's been asking for bread in Iraq
and only supermarket slices make it.
Covered in flour, my hands
Rings off and my fingers fall back
into girl shape, slender doves,
slip away from me, into the warm dough.
Where I can't say
I woke furious he went to war.
No choice but to go?
There are choices like following recipes,
leveling a cup of flour with a butter knife.
What comes next, I wonder.
Choices like adding the yeast last night,
and I thought it was old, she says,
but this is a good rise.
Choices that seem to lift like bubbles in the dough,
opening the surface.
I knead and knead,
as if the bubbles were rot,
no holes in this loaf,
my hands, so tired they feel full.
Settle the dough
like fat babies into loaf pans.
A silence raises over the edge
but does not fall.
Take down strawberry preserves
cans of apple butter,
check the lids haven't popped
corrupting what's inside.
Shut the door of the cupboard
against more jars, a century
with my family farming, growing, canning here,
I wonder what is next.
We will all be better for it.
And who will say there isn't joy,
brushing warm butter onto gold crusts,
coffee cooing good morning good.
Then the children calling for their favorite syrup:
Log Cabin, Butterworth, Jemima,
too many choices of sweetness,
no one taking the real maple.
Even the loaves with holes in the center,
delicious on this morning
of my country's dying.
We've been living in this century
Syrup sticks to plates and saucers,
I lick it from my fingers.
Sweet, when you get this rotten loaf of bread,
break it apart before you throw it out.
The mold, a fingerprint, ghost of my hands,
one morning of a