Jesus is a Fungal God The little boy is watching his mother. They are inside, out of the metallic heat of noon, and she stands at the one table they own, soft-cedar, made by his father and older brother. He leans against the table’s leg, tugging at his mother’s skirt. Wishing she would feed him a date cake. Or pay him any attention at all. “Imah, tell me a story,” he begs. His brothers are off working with his father and he has spent all day in the nearby pasture, chasing the sheep. Now he is bored and bug-bitten. But she tussles his hair and shushes him. Slowly, the closeness of her warm body soothes him, and he watches her pull a sheet of linen from an old stone bowl. The smell is piquant, sour, like ewe’s milk. She pinches a bit of citrus-yellow dough from the bowl before covering it back over. Carefully, she rolls the old dough between her hands until it is a perfect orb. Transfixed, he watches as she carefully nestles it into a pale, sticky batch of new dough. With the same care she uses to comb his thick curls, to help him cut his meat on holidays, she begins to press and knead the old dough into the new. Suddenly there is a sequin of light. Another. Like starlight, or a combustion of dust motes. Something like a cloud shimmers above his mother’s hands. He blinks. And it is gone. Years later, the boy will grow into a man and will remember the smell of the dough, the loose, blue shadows gliding across the distant wall, the warmth of his mother’s strong thigh against his cheek, and the scintillating vision that hovered above her hands. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the leaven a woman used in making bread,” he will tell a small group of his friends as they share a loaf of bread by the seaside. “Even though she put only a little leaven in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
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