October 27, 2023
The Dark Sky Club and The Five Stages of Yeast
By Richard Luftig
The Dark Sky Club is Having Its Meeting Tonight
We start at midnight,
when the businesses are all closed
and most sensible people in town
are in bed for the night.
Up at the picnic shelter of the township park,
the darkest spot in the darkest part
of the county. That’s where it’s best
to explore the night sky:
some with binoculars,
most with our naked eyes,
and Ernie—God bless him—
with his homemade telescope
and his willingness to share.
Our membership is dwindling
and attendance varies
but there’s always Ellen,
a single mom who uses the tip money
from her restaurant job to pay
for a baby-sitter, and Bob, who works
construction and is embarrassed
to let the guys on his crew know about
his planetary hobby. And, of course,
Lee, our resident bullshitter,
who claims his parents took him
as a baby to see Halley’s Comet
in 1910, which would make him something
like 120- years- old, but to be perfectly honest,
with Lee you just never know.
And, of course, me who argues
with anyone who will listen
why Pluto should still be a planet.
We’re all out here in the December cold
listening to Virginia, our leader by default
because she took an astrometry course
in college years ago. She tells us
this is a great night to be stargazing
(tell that to our freezing feet)
since Orion’s belt is so bright
in the southern sky and asteroid
showers give their best show.
But if I know these folks,
and I think I do,
we’ll all be looking away,
in our private solitude,
exploring our favorite section
of the universe, making
a personal wish upon
our own special star.
The Five Stages of Yeast
When my daughter was younger
she would make beer,
dark as the basement where
she brewed it, with malt,
sugar, hops and Brewer’s Yeast.
The stuff produced enough methane
to heat a house, was black
and bitter as bad luck
but she loved it and brought the stuff
out for special occasions. I guess
there’s no accounting for taste.
Now she owns a winery
and spends hours, days, making it.
She harvests grapes and sends me pictures
of her stomping them with her feet.
Then, she mixes the stuff
in giant vats that removes all the air
so that yeast, wine’s best friend,
can make alcohol out of sugar, without which
Jesus would have been stuck with just
grape juice. I am duly impressed
and drink my Ripple with new respect.
My doctor analyzes the urine sample
and says I have a yeast infection.
I tell him that is impossible,
because I’ve not been peeing donuts.
You’d think for the one-hundred dollar
visit, the guy would at least crack a smile.
I mean, it’s yeast for God’s sake,
but I can’t get a rise out of him.
The sweet smell of flour
clings to my wife’s apron
like love. Today, she is making
New York pizza, the kind
that makes me homesick
when you fold a triangle of slice
in half and bite at the tip so the sweet
olive oil doesn’t run down your chin.
Come here and help me, she says.
Your job is to add the yeast
to the water in the bowl and call
me when it comes to a roil.
I open up the packet, add the warm water
and wait: two minutes, then three,
then five. Finally bubbles appear,
defying gravity, each a geyser
that rises to the surface and explodes.
I think of the sweet concoction
of dough and sauce and mozzarella cheese
that will later emerge from the oven.
I think of God in the Garden of Eden.
Be fruitful, I whisper, and multiply.
Write City Ezine is currently open for short story submissions but closed to poetry through 2023. See submission guidelines for further information.
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