Leavening

There are people who'll buy a pine
bookshelf of knock-down parts 

that can be reassembled into
a coffin; or one of woven

cane that a body would fit  
into, snug as a sourdough loaf  

proofing in a long banneton with 
a cover. And proofing is the term 

that bakers use to describe 
the extra time of rest given 

the dough before feeding
it to the fire: a few extra

hours during which the yeast 
is allowed to flower, its quiet

gasses making little pillowy
tunnels under the skin. Science

points out instances like these,
when it shouldn't be surprising 

that something considered dead 
or dying harbors spores still 

teeming with other kinds of life.
On a walk by the river, I saw

the nubby fleece of barnacles 
shawled over rotted pilings.

In shimmering webs under
azalea bushes, the moth-

balled remains of insects, which
industrious agriopes catalog

as provisions in their ledgers. 
But I keep tossing in the hours  

before morning, drenched in sweat
and troubled dreams— Plague

and pestilence, flood and fire
reducing everything to cinders; no

time for leavening before the tribes
fled to the emptiness of the desert.  

Then I'm fully awake again— as they say,
among the living. I swing my feet over 

the edge then walk downstairs  
for a cup of coffee and some bread. 

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