Every year this time

🕔Nov 19, 2007

Every year this time
we get out the same battered bowl
abandoned, I remember, by someone
trying to disappear. We use the
measuring cups my sister gave us
to scoop the flour out of the special drawer
Emil built before he died. This year, as always,
I knead it on his wooden counter – there’s an old picture of our youngest in an apron and chef’s hat, grinning at the camera one shoulder against my hip as we stand here together rolling out pastry –
and sometimes I have to admit
I wonder what other life I could have
lived in some other way.

But as my hands sink deep into the dough
the flour thinks its own thoughts.
A few months ago, it was a tasseled head
bending in some prairie wind.
never imagining combines and mice
running from the circling hawks. Elevators
or rail cars. And the water. Who knows what cloud it made to fall as rain or snow somewhere up high? Who knows how long it rested in those sacred places before seeping into an alpine freshet missed by my thirsty mouth one summer when I bent to drink or wash the sweat out of my eyes? Who knows what gravity brought it to our well?
The air could have travelled the whole world round
before this house breathed in
and exhaled into the softened yeast
that will raise this bread.

And so I bend over the scarred wood
hands deep in these beginnings
each of us made new again.