baking and breaking bread



this flour
comes from living seed
ground to texture
of fine sand

I know how many hands full
will make two loaves,
measured by height
on my board
not cups; how much water
& honey to revive yeast
something known
by eye, and temperature
in a dash of water on the skin
never a thermometer

I cook by feel,
through senses

not tools

there is sensuality
in the pass
of these hands

through flour,water,
and salt

the dough is ready
when my kneading hands are free
of any sticking

after it grows doubled
I punch down the living mass
and it yields, sighing
into two rough ovals

left alone to breathe
and grow, again
under that same cloth

dressed with sunflower
and pumpkin seeds
brushed on with water

the loaves will bake
until I tap
and hear their doneness

no recipe here
just organic process

and that is what rests
in your fingers, still warm
slightly coarse
my bread


***for Dverse poetics prompt.

This was the prompt, and I chose bread making, as this is something I do a few times a week.

“So for today’s Poetics, which also rings out our celebration week, I invite you to observe someone or something and describe what you see. And of course, you don’t have to stick to the plain facts but like Schiller can go way beyond them…and it doesn’t have to be a complicated process, it can be about just everything what you see on a daily base.. no matter if it is the policeman on the crossroads, guiding the traffic, the man in suit and tie behind the cash counter in the bank, how to cook an indian Butter Turka Dal (that’s what we had for lunch today..) or the waitress in your favorite restaurant, serving drink… almost endless possibilities…”


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40 thoughts on “baking and breaking bread

  1. love it…there’s something so earthly in the baking of bread.. for many years i baked our own bread..and mostly didn’t use a machine but my hands to knead it…just because it feels like it feels like you write.. a wonderful poem susan

    • Thanks, Claudia–I love bread making, kneading dough–cooking as something felt and not followed! It is such a relaxing but creative thing to do. We, the two of us, should meet up somewhere (I am assuming the middle of the Atlantic somewhere), and cook a lovely dinner :)

    • Well, yes, I can…If I want extra sugar, preservatives, and crud in it :)

      I prefer the neanderthal way of living, at times. Way more fun.

      Love your cheekiness, Kyle!

  2. “and it yields, sighing”
    You’ve given us the living breathing truth of it just as I remember from watching grandfather touch that bread like he never touched anyone or anything else.
    Thank you for a great poem, artist at work.

  3. very cool….bet it is fascinating to watch…everything done by hand…that def takes skills…and there is an intimacy as well witht he food and the process that develops that allows this to even happen….very cool verse…

    • Thanks, Brian! I started out with a bread machine, but my family would devour a loaf in a day, and I got tired of using it every day. Then, I remembered what my grandmother taught me, and do it her way now. It is a time-consuming process, but I love it.

  4. My late partner used to make home made bread. A convection oven she’d bake six at a time.. OMGoodness, I’ve never tasted such delicious bread before in all my life. Fresh from the oven, still warm, thick(ish) slices with butter. They were so wonderful. I can well imagine this to be a labour of love. You’ve made it sound like one and bought back happy memories. Fresh baked bread and lobster. Yumm.
    Loved this !

    • Oh, bread and lobster…bread and homemade ground-cherry jam, bread and…well bread. Funny, I still remember my grandmother’s bread, my mother’s bread. I think when made, it is a complete work of love.

    • Oh, I am so sorry! I really did start with a bread machine I picked up at a garage sale–you get the smell that way, but the kids ate it too fast and I had to go to hand-kneading. So much more fun, can make as much as you need, and brings back memories for me.

  5. Such a cool poem. I used to bake unyeasted bread (years ago) quite a bit. I was even grinding my own flour for a while! (Not that successful.) But I know exactly what you mean about knowing the dough. And the dough gets to know your kitchen too. Very wonderful. k.

  6. when I read this, I picture you as complete oneness and peace with your movement. It is such a soothing picture you create with your words. I want to sit in your kitchen, drink my coffee and peacefully observe you craft this bread. and by reading this.. I feel as though I have.
    To be redundant but very truthful.. I do so enjoy your writing Susan

  7. I loved this poem, because I love cooking even though I don’t do it as much as I should. Thanks also for the prompt, I find descriptive poetry my favorite types of poems.

    • Thank you, Jane. Such a simple, basic thing, bread, and those of us that make it are offering something of themselves when they share it. Can you tell it is Sunday–my mind is wandering to communion of a sort :)

  8. I like the way you present bread as a form of embodiment. As you know from our conversations, this is a special interest of mine. :-)

    Have you considered writing about your gardening this way too?

    • Jeremy–that is a good thought, and any other year, I would. This year, the poor thing struggles on dry sticks and yellow leaves–of course, there is embodiment in drought, too.

  9. Deborah Avila

    I believe there’s a nurturing that comes into this act of baking bread just like the potter and the clay metaphor~ a beautiful piece! ~Fondly Deb

    • Thank you–could think of nothing else to satisfy the prompt we were given, and I am stunned at the response it is getting. We seem to respond to bread (that common thing) on some sort of essential level.

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