The Poisoned Loaf

A crow, legend tells us,
took the poisoned loaf
the jealous subdeacon
had sent to Benedict
and flew it far from
the mouths of those
too hungry to question
so sudden a gift.

Pinched between its beak,
the holy cards imagine,
a Dark Age dinner roll,
a bitter bun marked with
an X and not a cross.


I wonder if that's right.

Surely, it was bigger
and cruder, a heavy
boule hauled, ash-bottomed,
from the stove's far back.

Surely, the crow struggled,
thrust back into inelegance,
wings against the draft.
The loaf, talon-clutched,
unsteady in its rising,
an ill omen over Perugia,

Another of our sins aloft
in that uneasy suspension:
forgiven, dispatched, released
but not yet departed.

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