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Leah Stewart

Honorable Mention : 2008 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest $100

About this Christian Poet:
Leah Stewart is a poetess and writer living in Rochester, N.Y. She spends little if any time away from the written word; in addition to her own writing, she takes on freelance proofreading/editing work.

About this Poem:
This piece was mostly intended as a reflection on the influence those around us (particularly parents) can have on our faith and upbringing while at the same time we branch out to become ourselves and accept that faith as more than just what we've been taught.

We'll each leave behind twelve basketfuls

My mother taught me to make bread
the way her mother (whose mother) taught her;
generations stacked like cupboard shelves
until the back swallows them. Who taught them

who were the first to roll their sleeves up,
elbow-deep in grain to grind a meal? 
Perhaps the idea baked itself
already crisp and golden, its aroma
an inherited memory of manna.

We, too, are bread, or dough;
left alone, though, we do not rise
in our season. Mothers sift us; it chafes
until we notice their gentleness.

Still, a dozen bakers cannot pull us,
one pressing us flat
while another ties pretzels;
even formed by them, we shape ourselves.

Folded hands do what yeast does;
they stir us and we change into
fragrant prayer-offerings, our own
and raised by generations. We grow and double,
pleasing aromas lifted to Heaven.

We roll and tumble out,
each of us sparked to new life
in an explosion of flour dust.

Copyright ©2008 by Leah Stewart