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Rachel Hadas: Sourdough Starter

Vermont, June 2020

To punch what happened down and keep it down

ought to be a simple chore. Yet still,

resilient, the dough swells up to fill

above the brim that bowl there in the sun.

One batch of sourdough starter, it is said,

can trace its lineage generations back.

Each fresh loaf carries on the tangy smack,

fermented yeastiness, inherited,

revised, enhanced by its long passage through

decades of kneading by uncounted hands.

Let rise; bake; eat. Leftover starter’s fed

with flour and water. And the sour dough

rises again, again meets the demands

the living keep on making: Give us bread.

And starts again. It’s living. It’s not dead.


From Pandemic Almanac (Ragged Sky, 2022). Copyright Rachel Hadas 2022. Included in Vox Populi with permission.

Rachel Hadas is the author of many books of poetry, prose, and translations. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, an Ingram Merrill Foundation grant in poetry, and an award in literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Rachel Hadas (photo: Rutgers University)

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