You knead the dough until numb,
divide it into small balls and stamp it,
leaving marks of the Holy Trinity
branded into the bread’s flesh.
Thank God for flour, for hands,
Kneel in front of the fire
and slide His body in,
until fragrant, with a crisp crust.
Fill the air with incense.
Pair each pita with a lit candle
so the dead can see their way.
Next to it, balance a boiled egg,
a cube of sheep cheese,
You give me the food:
May it be for the souls of our dead.
Bogdaproste, I say,
and the bread changes hands.
May it be received.
From the scent of basil in her bosom,
you know your young mother Ioana
has entered the room,
and, when you hear the sound of water,
your drowned brother George has arrived.
The dead have come to eat, chat,
find out what’s new.
They sit around us in the empty chairs,
share a watermelon bite,
and watch me, a serious child
scrutinizing the frankincense smoke.
You tell them all about the garden
and how the kids have grown.
They ask if you’re happy
and you’re silent,
hands folded in your lap,
as you listen to the day drip,
this holy day
when the graves part
and the dead come to visit.