Poem by Sally Toner
Fear of Yeast: A Broken Pantoum
I am riding to plague again.
Sometimes under a sooty wash
From the grate in the burnt-out gable
I see the needy in a small pow-wow.
What do I say if they wheel out their dead?
I’m cauterized, a black stump of home.
I confess, I am terrified of yeast.
The precision of baking is dark magic to me--
like counted cross stitch I attempted as a child
I spent 40 days sewing, pulling, fixing my mistakes.
The precision of baking is dark magic to us.
Fungus bubbles in water. We feed on what’s unclean.
We spend years sewing, pulling, fixing our mistakes,
seeking dollars, hours, fishes and loaves to feed too many.
Poison bubbles in their rivers. We feed them what’s unclean.
Our powder in the cupboard long expired, nothing rises.
Not enough dollars, hours, fishes and loaves to feed too many.
Excuses waft like steam for why we never bake.
The dreams so long expired fall like powder--dust in eyes.
We remember love we stitched together as a child
and pound excuses out as our dirty fingers knead,
even as we shiver, terrified of yeast.
Sally Toner is a high school English teacher who has lived in the Washington, DC area for almost 25 years. She lives in Reston with her husband, at times her two grown daughters, and a Russian Blue named Chris.
These poems were submitted for the 2020 WFD Poetry Competition