“We light the fire so everyone can bake bread” -Jose Marti – Mercedes Webb-Pullman

Mercedes Webb-Pullman

She brushes a loaf pan with butter,
measures flour and yeast,
dreams of scarlet petals that open
slow like blood blossoms to disclose
ferment and growth.

Carbon dioxide flares inside
where dough feeds, gold flashes
like finger-cymbal clashes,
and bubbles form its texture.

She tips flour, yeast, and salt into a bowl
dreaming of home, timber and glass
that grow from the cliff, part of sky,
and mixes well to combine,

makes a well in the centre, adds water.
Each flowered room leads to another –
books, carpets, music – each window
must be lukewarm;
too hot, it can kill.

She glimpses burning corpses, dreams
of fleeing in her pink boots
as she stirs with a wooden spoon
then squeezes dough in her hands,
runs along a path of stepping-stones,
treacherous and mossy, into water,

turns onto a lightly floured surface
and kneads for 8-10 minutes until
she picks up a coin, a key, a cup,
lets the dice lie; odds adjust
until smooth and elastic.

Kneading distributes yeast evenly;
she sees a clear lake in a mountain
meadow, echoing sky. Before her
gluten in the flour tightens
until dough springs back.
A passer-by pauses, asks for water.

She stares into this face, death,
shapes the dough in a ball,
greases a bowl with butter.
He looks so ordinary. He looks
like her. She turns the dough over,
coats its surface in grease
to stop it drying as it rises.

She feels a procession carry her
like flotsam, then disappear
as she covers the bowl with
plastic wrap in a warm corner.

She goes alone to the locked gate.
She doesn’t need her key.
The dough doubles in size,
and as she punches it down
she hears a riverside gathering,
slow ritual of word and song.

Again she kneads until smooth
and returned to original size.
She gives her coin away, stares up
at unfamiliar star’s cold glitter
then halves the dough, presses each
equally into the greased loaf pans.

She struggles to remember skies
dissolving in butterfly clouds,
lightly brushes the loaves with water
and poppy seeds, to rise as before.

Here is eternity: nebula births,
exploding matter laser strikes
in a preheated oven for 30 minutes
or until cooked through, golden brown.

In time, white shifts
to red, crust forms around holes
turned onto a wire rack,
and allowed to cool.

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