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October 2016, vol 12 no 3

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Connie R. Meester


Baking bread this morning. Deep in the kneading phase. Baking bread is not something I do because it is cost effective. It is not. Rather the process of kneading assists me in working through the thoughts that wake me during the night. Thoughts like: If I should have to live in a cardboard box under an Interstate viaduct, let the box display the labels Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, or Saks Fifth Avenue. (Flip the dough . . . press it out with firm fingers, add flour for strength). If I hadn’t sold my furs, I could have lined such a box lavishly, a lush patchwork lining assembled the way I, as a newlywed, sewed carpet samples together for our little apartment. (Slide hands deep in the dough, grab and flip). For some reason I did not throw out the wallpaper samples I collected when I did the remodeling of our bedroom in the big house. Those samples would amply cover any assemblage of boxes I could cobble together. All I would need is a place to sleep and stash a few clothes. I bet if put my creative mind to it, I could design a collapsible box to be hidden out of sight during the day. There might even be a market for such a thing. (Heel of hand applied into the dough, a steady rhythmic motion). My personal favorite box would be Neiman’s, for old time’s sake, where I had a personal shopper and the clerks called me by name when I entered through the big brass door. That always made me think of the sitcom “Cheers . . . where everyone knows your name,” but no one really knew anything about each other. In my story clothes and shoe sizes, general preferences to style and color, and favorite cosmetics are computerized for quick access. In truth, they could sell me almost anything with their trained ooohs and aaaahs. I gave as good as I got in that category. (Turn dough again, must not pause too long). It was no secret even to the clerks why I shopped excessively and exclusively in this manner. We all knew I was buying self-esteem to take home to a husband who was happy to buy me whatever might make me less . . . resentful, watchful, mindful . . . whatever might cause me to be fed-up.

baking bread together
we let the dough rest
through the moments
that hold us as one
before elasticity snaps