At a coffee shop in Rogers – a poem by McKinley Dirks

At a coffee shop in Rogers
Break it like communion bread,
my best friend said of the coffee cake,
thick gluten-free and afternoon cold.
My fingers stalled on the spongey
dough, sugar granules pressed
into skin. Don’t make this holy, I said,
that stresses me out, stared at the snake-
skin swirl of cinnamon through its center.
I might have scrambled for a pen, cast
my hands to a pocket notebook,
scribbled words that would become a poem
about how a piece of coffee cake
becomes a holy thing, leaving sticky
ridges on the page because I couldn’t pause
to rub the sugar from my fingers.
But not anymore. Anxiety is the absence
of surrender, pride the alienation of
holiness, and my halted hands pull
this bread in two pieces, brush the crumbs
from my skin, offer her the half with less
sugar because she is more health-conscious
than I. The blogs tell me anxiety is not
punishment, not an enemy, but a catalyst
for deeper faith in the One who tested
Job when he was faithful, banned Moses
from the Promised Land. Why shouldn’t I
ask to be whole again? How am I to pray,
Lord, break me     like communion bread.

McKinley Dirks grew up in Castle Rock, Colorado and now resides in Northwest Arkansas with her one-year-old corgi, Bentley. She received her Bachelor’s of English from John Brown University and spent much of her time there as editor-in-chief of the student-run publication Shards of Light. In addition to poetry, she enjoys art, flower bouquets, and mysteries.

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