Pandemic Bread —on reading Meta Kušar’s Ljubljana no. 71 A messenger arrives slender and pale announces herself with a string of titles reclines on the spine splits apart at the center pages swing open on a double hinge La voix dans le corps The Voice in the Body Glas v telesu Three different voices but one language shared by three women poets from a small green land of mountains and caverns rivers underground dragons and bridges where writers abound Their sweet mother tongue transplanted turned sour my grandmother said as she kneaded her bread a weight to abandon to forget and erase —until I resolved to claim it again Now a book in Slovene (and English and French) opens itself to the lesson I need from a faraway poet who tended her bread spun stories in words not known to me yet The poet reminds us to be patient and wait for a gradual ripening of what matters most whether bread or poem soul or song they grow together in shared time and place Fermentation continues in the cold and dark when our back is turned even when we forget each pocket of air will rise and expand gluten grown strong with each intertwined strand An overworked dough is bound to collapse but flavor will deepen when hands do not rush when we pause to wonder and we trust and wait the gift will appear that was ours from the start
Background note by author: Meta Kušar is a well known Slovenian poet and essayist. Her long multi-part poem Ljubljana (2003) was subsequently included in the trilingual anthology La voix dans le corps/ The Voice in the Body/ Glas v telesu: trois poetesses slovènes; Ljubljana: Slovene Writers Association (2005).
Blair Kilpatrick is a psychologist and musician in Berkeley, California. She is the author of Accordion Dreams: A Journey into Cajun and Creole Music (U. Press Mississippi, 2009). She was the recipient of the first annual Slovenian Literary Award (2019) and is currently working on a family roots memoir. In her free time, she enjoys baking bread, playing the Cajun accordion with her fiddler husband, and visiting their adult children in Toronto and New York. Her website is www.blairkilpatrick.com