Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or A Little Levity About Leaven

Because, in its stubby brown-glass jar

or its battered, three-personed foil packet,

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it gets entombed in the chaos of cartons

appearing at last, as though resurrected,

Because the lump in which it lies hidden

is formless and potent as creation’s clay,

Because I sink my hands in its history

and come up with levamen

“solace” or “consolation,”

Because it’s consoling to smack it down—

pummel it, grinning like a Halloween demon—

and find I never defeat it,

Because its down-and-up-again persistence

is like a congregation’s kneeling and rising

(Levate, in the Latin of old rubrics),

Because, at some point in the fifty years

since I learned to file its fungal names

among the tangled roots of the Plantae,

they bloomed, those names, as a kingdom of their own,

And because this makes me smile, recalling

that leaven’s Your own little joke about the Kingdom,

Be praised, O Lord, for this bit of mystery,

which lifts, which lightens.

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