Not Enough Honey

It’s only Sunday.
The dough rises on the counter, proud that it will be ready early, ahead of the game.
It doesn’t know that by the time it’s ready to bake, it will have tears mixed with its streusel crumbs,
That the first time it will be blessed
The time before it’s baked
Will be in memory of a half-man, half-lion who was still here when the dough began
A man who roared even after he was silenced
A piece of dough ripped from the whole.

The dough, rising, overhears your husband say:
There has been an attack
–Just steps away from where you bought the flour–
It hears you say:
I hear it’s a man (a son, a father, a brother?)
A man younger than you
Then: A man from our town.

But
Who?

You wait.

The dough rises even after you find out
Even after your heart deflates, punched down
And the yeast sours in your heart from the news that you knew him
The fallen warrior
The larger-than-life lion you wish you knew better
A soldier in protecting soldiers, in protecting your town, your own
You see the elegant wife you sat next to at that bar mitzvah,
Shmoozing and smiling and sharing
And you taste Now She is Alone,
And there won’t be enough honey or apples now
To drown out that bitter.

You learn that the tall, handsome young man, almost a lion himself,
Who was hanging out in the pack in your dining room just a few nights ago
Is one of the cubs, his pride’s leader lost
And you find more tears to cry for your daughter crying for her friend.

But  the dough rises
And still you shape it
Round, round, round
Like the roundabout so close to this stabbing
Like the cycle of a year
And you wonder if this year
So very young and which seemed so full of promise
Can still be golden
Can still taste sweet.

By the time you go tonight
First to dance at a party
To bear-hug joy as a boy becomes a man
And then to a midnight cemetery in a forest
Which has seen too many circles
The dough, baked and cooled and round
Will be frozen
Waiting for another time
When you can dip the dough in extra honey
To mask the salty, sweet.

About the Author
Jessica Levine Kupferberg is a writer and former litigation attorney. She made aliyah from La Jolla, California with her family during Operation Protective Edge in July 2014 after driving across America. Her work has appeared in Kveller.com, The Jewish Journal, The Forward, Jweekly, and aish.com.
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