Blessing the Bread

by Lynn Ungar

Original Language English

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha'olam,
hamotzi lechem min ha'aretz.

Surely the earth
is heavy with this rhythm,
the stretch and pull of bread,
the folding in and folding in
across the palms, as if
the lines of my hands could chart
a map across the dough,
mold flour and water into
the crosshatchings of my life.

I do not believe in palmistry,
but I study my hands for promises
when no one is around.
I do not believe in magic.
But I probe the dough
for signs of life, willing
it to rise, to take shape,
to feed me. I do not believe
in palmistry, in magic, but
something happens in kneading
dough or massaging flesh;
an imprint of the hand remains
on the bodies we have touched.

This is the lifeline --
the etched path from hand
to grain to earth, the transmutation
of the elements through touch
marking the miracles
on which we unwillingly depend.

Praised be thou, eternal God,
who brings forth bread from the earth.

-- from Bread and Other Miracles, by Lynn Ungar

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