(with lines from Maxine Kumin)
The microwave hums
to the merry-go-round coffee, stale,
framed Love Never Fails crowns
with angels the sponged-blue wall
above the stove.
Slopping cinnamon creamer
half into the black swirl in a blue mug,
half onto the counter
in my kitchen (immaculate, Easy-Offed)
I sop up the spill, a smell, that kitchen smell.
I hear bread slapping in a white dishpan
for its surrender of gluten.
"So the bite will be right," my mother says
scraping sticky white strings
rolling snake-shapes in the rubbing off
from her gold band;
then, set to voluminous rising,
a storying time
waiting on that living thing,
out of the white-mouthed
dishpan, flooding green marble, foam on the sea.
Under grandmother's rolling pin,
thick wood you never washed,
that thing exhaled and flattened,
my mother pressing stories into the dough,
parables for the waiting,
a pearl of great price, a prodigal son,
Cinnamon bark and sugar cane
and butter I'd treadled through
the swinging motion of paddles,
agitated from a thick-skinned
blanket of fresh milk.
Butter gleaming flat down dough's side,
greasing more parables;
the tares and the sower, bread cast
and returned on the water.
Cinnamon dust and sugar and flour
fogged extravagant incense,
ashes to ashes dust to dust.
O wasteful Heaven, the Jewel of the Just,
a pearl for all this heaven
for the sake of the cinnamon clouds, come.
Come another rising of disorderly remembrance;
Come to the dough, to the pearl, to the baking.
Come casting a spell from the hellish oven
a crusted cave, cherries and apples in
drippings blackened to ash.
O placeless heaven, not immaculate, come.
Holy remembering, come.
Come in while my life is taking place;
Come settle over immaculate,
shed ashes to cleanliness.
Oh pearl, oh heaven, Come.
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