Baking Weather

The trick to flouring the bench
when rolling out dough or kneading:
A palm twist, and a breath
of skillful gauze
keeps raw dough pliant,
peeling clean from smooth wood,
silky to the hand.

The same craft releases tiny, even
flakes of snow on every surface.
A layer between flesh
and pull of earth.
In twilight, thorns of cold air,
the dust of ice, disguise
the planet’s deep magma.

Summer will soon raise and ripen
the loaf, the adventure.
Rain will glaze the urban crust.
Patience tunes the gaze.
When you flex aching hands,
shake out your shoulders,
stars sift from the densest clouds.


Click here to read Mary Elizabeth Birnbaum on the origin of the poem.

Image: photo by Duncan Kidd on Unsplash, licensed under CC 2.0.

Mary Elizabeth Birnbaum:
When I read Rilke’s line, “You must change your life,” I note to myself that I must deepen my life—my inner perceptions. A poem can begin almost by accident—I am always challenging myself. I notice something that I have never noticed until the moment. The grace and skill of a habitual movement. This is the entrance to the poem’s path. But sometimes I stumble out of the poem again, which happened with “Baking Weather.” I had to find the heart of the poem. This is revision, re-seeing, and it’s a deep act, not only of writing, but of personal being. Often I strike out the first lines and many others, rearrange lines or stanzas, introduce strong new imagery to impact the original glimpse that began the poem, to see more deeply.

Mary Elizabeth Birnbaum
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