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Sourdough Bread -- poetry by Chloe Szeto

she starts by adding flour to the bowl at night

when her children and husband begin winding down

there’s butter, water, eggs, and salt on the kitchen counter

each carefully measured on a scale or in a cup

her feet planted in the ground

as she begins to combine

her hands are a testament to the strength of a mother

the palms are meaty and warm

while the back is like a roadmap of dry skin

the heels dig into the parchment colored dough

pressing, kneading, tugging, pulling, unyielding

she rocks like an untethered seaboat

the raw dough looks like the surface of her first born’s bum

smooth and soft, without a blemish

the gluten needs to rest, just as much as she does

she puts the medium sized bowl into the proof box,

making sure it stays temperate through the night

making sure it’s snug and homelike

in the morning

when the roosters caw with the voice of a widow

and the mildew clings onto the sharp blades of grass

the dough overflows trickling down the sides of the porcelain bowl

where to go? Where to go? WHERE TO GO?

coalescing into a heaping mess with no control

there is nowhere to go.

it’s too hot

it’s too warm

it’s too scalding

it’s too much like the suffocating mid-july heat wind

no more, no more, no more

what’s more?

mother is rushing down the stairs, having overslept

oh, how her poor baby dough has outgrown the bowl

she gathers it into her sore hands

shaping it, comforting it, soothing it

placing it into the cast iron dutch oven

a final goodbye and embrace,

she places the lid over the pot, like a quilt on a quiet child

forgive and forget, she uses a knife to lacerate an arrowhead

placing it into the scorching oven, she gave a wide smile

coming out, the top is like a fall sunset

the sweet smell

with a touch of funk

lingers in the house long after it’s been cooled

it’s no longer dough, it’s finally bread


Chloe Szeto is a recent high school graduate. When she's not fencing, she's reading an absurd amount, writing stories about her feelings so she doesn't go delusional, and baking various sweet treats.

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