by Deborah Morris

After mushroom tea with honey,
My head in a place of fungal beauty,
Taking a slow mental trip,
I’m baking bread,

Is it wise, I ask myself, to work with heat, with fire?
Liquid brain flows darkly around the words,
“Time,” I say aloud. My mind travels
But the bell will bring me back when the bread needs me.

The kitchen is warm as I work.
Whole wheat and rye,
Knead until stretchy and smooth,
Fold into an oval, wrap in floured muslin,
And turn out to rise in my rustic reed basket
Looking like a swaddled babe.

Dough rises, oven and terra cotta pot heat,
While I move to the living room and
Cradle in the deep red leather chair.
I gaze unfocused at this open airy space,
Not built but made by me, for me.
The yeast of my thoughts expands my elastic brain.

Before the bell
I know the time to rise and turn
The risen loaf from its Moses crib,
From its wrappings
Into the hot chipped clay pot.
Sharp knife slashes the proofed dough,
To reveal its innards, its truth.
Then cover to steam,
Enclosed in the hot humid space where
Bread springs to life,
Careful not to burn my plump age-spotted hands.

I set the time again and sit in my chair,
My belly, my womb, all wombs at the center.
Pattern, texture surround me.
Equatorial colors, reds, greens, golds,
The painted tree frog, my daughter’s work
Breathes and moves on its canvas,
Vivid colors pulsing. Intricate patterns fill my eyes,

My heart, with deep gratitude for this child’s gifts
Including those from her own center, her south.

Time is slow,

And smooth,

Expanding out
From my middle,

Not minutes but
Infinities of love

Until the bell dings and again I move to the kitchen where
The top comes off the pot
To crisp the crust.

Once more time is fixed and back in the chair, eyes closed,
I float in a soft red place,
Waiting for something to emerge,
Thoughts turning from bread and babies, to
Women, mothers and grandmothers, baking
For the children of their wombs, their hearts.

Wise women, broken women,
Vessels cracked by life and time,
Whole women who have risen.

Deborah Morris

I am a physician and Associate Professor at Methodist University in Fayetteville, NC. I have a special interest in the intersection between medicine and the arts, but also write poetry and memoir. I have published in The Examined Life Journal, Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine, Dreamers, About Place Journal, GreenPrints, and other print and online publications. Thanks for considering my work.

Artist: Sara Huxley Edwards 





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