Monday, February 17, 2014

There is no hole in a bagel

There is no hole in the bagel.
There is only the bagel, and not bagel.
The space around does not define
Only delineates and separates matter

The bagel biga bubbles, giddy
1 part water warm enough
To recall how we all came from the ocean
How rainstorms in the summer time
Steam Brooklyn pavement
One Half That Again in the Form of Maple Syrup
Slow in its roll, so polite and Canadian
Six Ounces of Helen Mirren
The sourdough starter, some 18 months old
Born in a cold Fall, leading into a hard Winter.
Helen Mirren grew long legs in that 18 months
She embraced the sorrow of the Spring
And turned those bitter tears into sweet love
Of fermentation, that poetry of deconstruction
On an atomic level. This is the power
Of Helen Mirren

It must sit, must acclimate. It cannot be rushed
Cannot be forced. The sugar in the Maple
Will drive Helen wild, Twenty minutes
Is not to long to wait, time is
A fucking shell game, anyway.

There was the stopwatch I lost
inside of my body cast, the year I turned three
When my leg was broken above the knee
in the family drive way, outside the kitchen door
They had given me the stopwatch
So shiny, with a perfect glass eye
Cool metal piston buttons clicka clak
They had given me the stopwatch
To help me understand when
I would not be in this cast, this shell
immobilized with no concept  of when
This would not be the case
Forever is the natural state of the two year old
They assured me that I would be 
Out of the cast, free
It was only a matter of time.
They gave me the stopwatch
So I could master time in witness
Watch the dials spin, the arms flail
Clockwise, indeed.
But I lost the stopwatch
to the cast, it slipped down
And sat like a gem on Smaug's belly
for the next month. Twenty minutes
Is not a long time to wait. 

Hand mixing. 
The machine does a great job,
It's magnificent in its ingenuity
Sexy in its strong horse-power
vibrating bits and stamina
The machine does a great job.
Hand mixing in an indulgence, really.
Geared towards album sides 
stacked on the turn-table's spire

8 oz of flour and a wooden spoon.
(This is my orb, this my scepter)
And the bowl of bubbling starter
The flour disappears quickly into the bog
Celestial and Infinite, I drag the spoon
Clockwise round the curve of the bowl
The smell rising fast, wet and lusty
Of wheat fields and good dirt
Of Rain and Seasons
And the light of the moon

8 oz of flour and a wooden spoon
Half strokes, slow and dragging the sides
While I spin the bowl the other 180°
With my left and forgotten hand.
The biga starts to turn into a kind of porridge
A thing lumpy and not quite right

It must have looked this
When God was thrashing about
Some years past, with Creation
At least, when baking, sometimes
It is necessary to have faith

A plank, a sideboard, a sturdy piece
A well lit place to handle this dough
Surface dusted w/ flour, a handful fallen
Remove the dough from the bowl
With your hands, man! With your hands.
And put it there on that table, that plank
Firm in your intent to get to know it better.

An album side is what it will take.
Not more. Not less.
To massage 8 oz of flour
Into the body of the dough
Squeezing with flexed fingers
Stretching the palm away from the heel
Working the thumb, rolling knuckles
An ounce at a time.
Folding. Pressing.Stretching. Folding.
Tap out a tap dance w/ your fingertips
Tease the dough.
No one likes it all rough and tumble.
Bagels, more than any baked good,
Has a great sense of humor.

It is no mistake that it looks
like a globe
                  A planet, a world

When you cut it into 8 parts
(4.5oz each) rolled into 8 perfect balls
Roll each ball into and in between
Your hands, across the crevices
The dips and valleys of your palm
Rolling the dough into itself
Each move as soft and unending
As butterfly kisses

There is no hole in the bagel.
There is only the bagel, and not bagel.
The space around does not define
Only delineates and separates matter

Poke your thumb through the center
A Dutch Boy & a Dike
The dough does not break
But moves around your thumb
Join your forefinger w/ you thumb
Nothing is as sweet as the ring imagined
The spyglass of all children
The ring made with thumb and forefinger
Each bagel is born in this way,
With not a hole, but a completion.

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