Belgium

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Belgium.
Belgium is a place I’ve never been.
I’d like to take a look at a Lets Go! Belgium book
Find the cafes, the theaters, the museums.
I’d write a play about a baker in Belgium who runs out of flour.
Half way into loading his peel
The dough expanding
Ripped from the boil
They lay breathless on the peel
In preparation for the bake.
His movements like a torero
Innately at ease with the elements.
Turning to the right he seeds the bread
His mind inside the oven finding space among the others
Turning right he casts the semolina finding places on the peel unseen to the eye, and
Reaching for the flour — gone.
He pants rhythmically the peel in his right hand
The oven open with his left ready to thrust the dough into the heat
He pants, he slows, the muscle drains from his arm and he puts down the dough.
Now he seems like a schoolboy flicking the remaining seeds off his fingers
Wondering where did he go wrong.
The oven is open.
He is itchy with sweat as his wool sweater that was once a comfort from the snow now becomes his reflection in a glass: a constant irritation.

I knew a baker from Belgium once.
A real one.
He had long hair
Fair skin
A weird smile.
One time he grabbed me
This is true.
He grabbed my shoulder
Pulled me toward him, whispering
“The butter should be there before the bread.”
(That thought stayed with me for awhile.)
He had a wife then.
His wife was thin. Timid.
Then he had a kid.
The kid made a lot of noise.
Out of control.
One time he yelled at the manager.
He threw around bread,
Tipped over coffee mugs,
Stuttered and stammered — reeling with disappointment.
It was then I went downstairs to the ‘walk-in.’
“Getting some rags,” I would say,
Go into the walk in and eat every raspberry I could find.
When I came back upstairs he was gone.
I noticed the manager leaning against the counter
Holding her head in her hands.
“I got rags,” I said.
As I put my arm on her shoulder
And squeezed.

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