Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or A Little Levity About Leaven

Because, in its stubby brown-glass jar

or its battered, three-personed foil packet,


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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