I’ll pitch the shaggy dough right there on the field, stab my shovel in deep to scoop and turn, knead the great globby mess until it’s smooth. We’ll cover it with the circus tent—bright red and gold stripes—smell the yeast working its magic, watch it rise in the midday sun. And as the dough rises higher than high, we’ll call all our friends, tell them “Come to the circus and bring your blowtorch.” And when they all come, we’ll pull off the tent, stand small under the hill of dough. With blowtorches in hand we’ll count—one two three—then let the flames roar at the bread-to-be. I suppose we’ll need ladders to bake the top of the bread. And of course, we’ll sweat buckets, I know. But even with the blowtorches biting in our hands, we’ll smile. Our stomachs will grumble at the smell of the bread. Our eyes will hunger with the crust turning gold. And then when it’s baked, we’ll turn off the blowtorches, see what we’ve made. And though we’ll want to eat the warm circus right away, we’ll wait. We’ll shove our hands deep in our pockets as we lick our lips, until finally, finally we hear the organ playing from inside. That’s when we’ll know it’s time. The circus is ready. And you, my love, you can do the honors. I’ll hand you the saw. You’ll slice a door in the side, standing back when the steam puffs into the air. You’ll carve deep into the bread, up, over, and down, and the more that you cut, the louder the music will ring, tootling arpeggios calling us in. Then just as the door is nearly cut through, all our friends will grasp on and pull off the door, the great bready door, so warm in our hands, and with great toothy smiles we’ll eat it all up. Then as is the way with a freshly baked circus, we’ll push through the entrance to the air pocket inside. Already the circus will be in full swing. The ringmaster grinning with breadstick moustache. Pizza crust acrobats spinning and flying. The brioche bun elephants gleaming soft shiny crusts. And you and me, all our friends, the whole damn town, we’ll nestle into the soft warmth of the loaf. And as we marvel, we’ll tear off bits of bread, eating our fill. We’ll laugh at the clowns, all funfetti and frosting, cheer for the animal crackers jumping through hoops. We’ll hold our breath for the hard-crusted man as he’s launched from the cannon. And yes, I’ll watch the delights, that much is true, but the greatest marvel will be your lips stretching in wide laughter, then parting gently in gasp, then stretching wide again.

***

K.A. Nielsen (she/they) is a U.S. writer living in Sweden. Their work has appeared/is forthcoming in Fusion Fragment, The Hunger, LandLocked, Sledgehammer Lit, and elsewhere. They are on the internet: www.kanielsen.net and @_kanielsen_.