Breadby Robbi Nester
for Jeremy Nester
I’ve never understood the multitude who relish
Wonder Bread—no texture and no taste.
It turns to paste in a single bite. Maybe they’ve
never had the pleasure of a crisp batard, each slice
packed with chunks of roasted garlic, olives, and
rosemary, the tang of coarse salt on the tongue.
But better still, to bake the bread oneself, to
set a metal bowl in a warm oven, let it breathe.
True, I’ve never sown or winnowed grain or ground
it, or even coaxed wild yeast to grow on dried fruit
in a jar, just emptied pre-packaged envelopes
into warm water, mixed this with the flour
and the salt. Still, I’ve used my fists to knead it
to a ball, shaped it, watched it rise, savored
the smell of home, a product that can’t be
packaged in a plastic bag. Bakery loaves can’t
fill the house with memories of braiding
challah with my son when he was small,
the way he’d hollow out the loaf with one swipe
of his small hands, mouth full of bread. A loaf
is more than scaffolding for peanut butter
sandwiches, a way to sop up gravy on the plate.
It’s got to have a bite, remind us of the Earth,
even if we’ve never seen a field of wheat, must
taste of family and of love. When we sit down
to eat a meal I’ve made, my son still hollows out
the loaf. We laugh, bread a bond between us.
Robbi Nester is a Jewish poet who frequently gets mail mistakenly addressed to "Rabbi Nester." She is the author of four books of poetry, the most recent being Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019). She has also edited three anthologies of poetry. The most recent is The Plague Papers, which may be read for free at http://www.Poemeleon.me/peruse-the-mall. Her poems have appeared recently in One Art, Sheila NaGig, MacQueen's Quinterly, Journal of Radical Wonder, Live Encounters, Gyroscope Review, Mindfull, Verse Virtual, Artemis, Gargoyle, and are forthcoming in Book of Matches, Naugatuck River Review, and Zooanthology (Sweetycat Press).