Gilda Radner said: “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”
Gilda’s sage advice about living life with the acceptance of improvisation in the face of failure reminds me of my own baking experiments over the past year in trying again and again to get my bread to rise. Some days, it was a cranky packet of yeast, others it was a cold draft running through the kitchen. I still ate down every slice because I didn’t want to waste the food or all the hours I spent in communion with this flour/water/yeasty creation.
Here’s making do with what you’ve got in a world of delicious ambiguity.
Buy organic eggs,
give more to Goodwill,
be bold, she said,
because that was how she moved–
she knew what she wanted
and earned it with long hours
and a morality that made the pastor in town
cry himself to sleep with envy.
For some reason she decided
to be my friend, decided to teach
me to be a better person,
teach me to make good bread
Knead dough so its surface shines
like the inside of an oyster.
In the dusky night of my kitchen
with bare feet humming on dusty floor
I pummeled my plain-dusted
pillow of a loaf into the counter
Palmed it down and around,
smoother and higher
so it accrued a gravitational
pull toward its doughy center.
But when I took the lump
from the oven, the crust
was creased and brown,
covering a meaty thick
middle laying low in the steel pan:
my whole wheat rock born in-
I ate a warm slice with butter,
barely swallowed it down
I could blame the loss
on my friend although
I knew that in my hands
nothing could go right,
so I downed another slice