The Makings of a Bread


*Image found HERE

The Makings of a Bread

At five o’clock in the morning
in the household, reclined
In the grey belly of the city,
Only me and her
An hour maybe,
Before our loved ones
Chirp like newborn sparrows;
Around two hours
Until bakeries unfold
Their pastries ‘fore the mouth of the street.
Years gaze from within her sockets,
Stirs and spits from mine.

“Let us bake our own bread, grand-daughter”,
she rises, slowly.
“I never did.”, I say;
“I’ll teach you.”, she defies,
emptying the cupboards one by one,
laying the ingredients on the table
in a pattern
so unfamiliar to mine.

She splits flour, pours water, cracks eggs,
Two bowls, she says,
Two pregnant Sun’s, one for me, one thine,
Her wrinkled hands dive in
And grind;
I touch the mush gently,
She, a mother of years, a mill of her village,
I, alike a hungry artisan.
She says:” Think of your son, and squeeze.
Think of hearts, and stir!
Think of love, and rip and join!”
My dough, pale yellow, barely taking form
And hers is done.

We cover our raw to dream and rise,
It’s five o’clock and twenty
The birds hail from outside
As we cross eyes and I feel
Spoiled, rotten, useless
With gears in my core
And I whisper to myself
How she’s so wise and old;
Never ask her what she ate
When it was war.
Instead we talk about TV, and discount
And clothes,
About seaside and neighbors,
Cut down trees and parking lots,
About souls in row
Waiting to buy coffee
While our breakfast grows,
And after a while
She picks the dough
Like she used to pick me from my crib
And nips it,
Twenty thousand washed plates
Clenched within her lips.

“Mold it now, dear.” She says,
you are crafting a soft pillar
for the strongest of empires!
She kneads the unmade
To left and right across,
Like bridges;
She spins and rolls and then conjoins
Everything whole, back again
Until a loaf is formed
And I follow,
With my flesh – candid; childlike.
We cut three times
For breath,
We lay our breads on the brass
And close the furnace door
And wait
For the smell of it
To occupy the household.

Brown, yellow and golden.
Like the earth we thread,
Like the dirt under her fingernails
In the summer,
Like the sunsets spent swinging at the park,
Like each Autumn might be
The last one we share,
Like musk on her favorite skirt,
Like a womb of the white core,
Like my son’s teeth when he smiles,
Soft like his cheeks
Like hers no longer are.
It’s well past six o’clock
When two loaves await
For butter and knives.

But we break them, instead,
Two chunks of two
Sticky, dulcet lives,
Just like that – raw. Plain.
And my bread tastes like
Skyscrapers and dust
And electrical wires,
Like rust corroding a heavy sunset,
Like rain on the asphalt.
Her bread tastes like
Love. And Pain.

*This is a poem from my book “Colour Me In Cyanide & Cherries”, and was inspired by my grandmother who I love dearly.

Some parts of the poem are deliberately exaggerated or penned down wrong, in an effort to show perhaps how much my grandmother had to teach me about various things, cooking and baking taking the first place.

I know the poem might not seem like much, I certainly would not say it is of the finest word-craftsmanship, but the poem is very dear to me and I wrote it with much love and intention to preserve my grandmother in what I love to do best, and that is write. I can go on about her forever, but I am leaving those tales for some other days.

Hope you enjoy reading the poem and if you have a story of your grandparents that you once commemorated in your writing (or did not), tell me about it in the comments, because I would really love to read it.

~ by Oloriel on August 8, 2016.

33 Responses to “The Makings of a Bread”

  1. I adore this poem so much! I’ll definitely be taking a look at your book! Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read and leave me a word of your own!
      If you have any stories of your grandparents, please be sure to share them with me, because I really DO want to read them!
      Have a wonderful day!


  3. A magnificent poem! I, too, loved my Gran who taught me about herbs and other Romani secrets of healing and understanding. You captured the feeling so perfectly. As an added bonus, my father was a baker the first 7 years of my life and he would come home at 6 in the morning and I would wait for him. We would eat cold spaghetti from the refrigerator and he would put a bit of his black coffee into my doll’s cup. He always smelled of dough and herbs and sometimes cinnamon. What could be better, in our lives, to associate wonderful memories with bread, “the staff of life”?

    • Thank you for sharing your tales with me!
      I think a part of why I am so close to my grandmother is because I am not close to my parents. I would want to be close with my father, but he was hardly ever around. Weird thing though, is, that he too is a very skilled cook and would always prepare the weirdest of dishes.

  4. Lovely poem. I’m glad you have such warm memories to inspire you.

  5. Beautiful poem. My grandmother was magic and that’s what she taught me…how to be magic.

  6. This is a wonderful, beautiful poem.

    • Thank you very much for taking time to read! I do hope it inspires you to cherish your loved ones and the memories you have with them! 🙂

  7. Word craftmanship, not necessary when you tell a story which you did. The relationship, the love and the bond with your grandmother. You took me to her kitchen and I felt the making of the bread. Like a bread rises to beauty, as do your words. ❤️

    • Thank you very much for your heartwarming comment, it means a lot to me, especially since you mention you felt like you were in her kitchen. I know everyone says this, but, there is really no food same like hers, no dish prepared and flavoured like with her precious hands. It can be a 2000 euro dish of all sorts of goodies, luxuries and delicacies, but you chew it and you feel like nothing tastes like the way she prepares it. It is always lacking. How I dread the day I will no longer be able to taste the bread she makes, ever again.

      • Darling I totally understand. My grandmother passed many years ago, but my mum was a brilliant cook and the smells from the dishes she would make, I can still smell. Even now when she no longer cooks and has dementia. This was a beautiful piece of work Oloriel and I enjoyed it – may you have many more special moments in your grandmothers kitchen. xx

  8. This is beautiful.😊

    • Thank you very much, I am happy you enjoyed reading! Have a wonderful day! 🙂

      • 🙂 Welcome. I forgot to tell this – one of the things I liked about this poem is the way you made the baking steps as building blocks for the memories and events that happened in your lives.

  9. Ah. Oloriel, you have that understanding of the most finer details and how without them, it’d be so empty. This is an endearing poem. It’s beauty lies in its gentle rising like that of the bread.

    My grandmother passed away this month last year. I wasn’t there for the funeral because it just seemed so unnatural to be there when she wasn’t. I remember the last time I met her (it’d been a while), she talked a little about the pain of the partition and migration back in the 1940s; she didn’t want to tell me the gruesome details.
    I wish I had heard more stories from her.

    • I am so sorry for your loss, HA. I can see the reasoning behind not being there. It reminds me of my grandmother as well. She decided not to have a burial, but be cremated. I have told her I will take the ashes of her with me, wherever I go. She said she has a spot at some alley of urns. I said I do not care, I will steal it if I have to.
      There has never been a person, except my son, that I have loved with such a love. Whatever she does, I can forgive. Whatever she dreams of, I want to make true.
      Much like your grandmother, she also spares me the gruesome details of wars she survived, on a very rare occasion does she disclose something. Now when she is more softer, feeling more safe, she wants to tell her tales, but she has forgotten them. I cannot help but to think it is a blessing.

  10. This is a poem that stands out… so much you can learn from baking bread… what stood out most for me was the notion of what you didn’t say.. and I can see the questions about war and harder times turning in your head… and I do love to bake bread every now and then myself…

    • Baking bread is in my opinion a really different culinary experience than all others. I have recently joined a project called Three loaves, where you get a different bread recipe and you are tasked with baking 3 breads: one for the household, one for a friend and one to donate. Nothing quite tastes like bread you make yourself, and I think as we grow and age, so does the taste of the bread we bake change.

  11. I’ve made bread. I’ve had bread made for me. It is a life force situation. I love this poem, Oloriel! ❤

  12. Too often I think the memories of my grandmothers were too brief.
    My parents having to move away from them because of jobs or then they retiring…
    But your words link me to their pleasant memories of doing the wash and cooking and holding my hand…with love. Thank you.

    • I am very happy to hear the poem could summon some good memories to you. Sometimes, it is a great gift that we should not be ashamed to cherish!

  13. Writing this before reading explanation: I love it, it radiates warmth, the images of love, sacrifice, caring…something forgotten by many and shunt in the nursing home while they raised us selfless…

    • Depends , really. I think sometimes, SOMETIMES, a part of being an adult is not having someone care for you. When you write this, this also sentence, I immediately think of people who are denied a dignity death by euthanasia. They are forced to live, with disease and dependent, for someone else. Who? The doctors, the nurses, family?
      And, most of these people are really nice people. Sometimes, it takes great, great courage to admit that you cant provide care, and that someone else should.

      • Yes, but it can be grey zone, you may have cancer and want to die, and you cure after a while after enduring the pain…depends on the situation at hand…

      • I am referring to people with illnesses with absolutely no cure. You can say cancer has no cure, but at least it has some sort of therapy and you have a shot. I am also not refering to a person who is in a coma on life support for example.
        I refer to people, with incurable, unrepeatable illnesses, being given morphium, but just not enough to finally go and rest in peace as it is their wish.
        Because we will miss them. We will miss their pain. That is cruel.
        We are taught after rain there is sunshine, yadda yadda. Sometimes no. Sometimes, after pain there is pain, and believing otherwise and forcing action to support it is ridiculous 🙂

  14. Yup, you can tell its written with love, warmth, it shows!

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