“Peace goes into the making of a poem, as flour goes into the making of bread.” ~ Pablo Neruda
The other day, after rereading Lesléa Newman’s, “According to Bread,” one of my favorite poems in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School (Pomelo Books, 2013), chewy, mouthwatering bread names playfully called to me, each a poem unto itself.
Bagel, Brioche, Baguette . . . Ciabatta, Challah, Chapati . . . Kulcha, Lavash, Focaccia, Tortilla, Pita, Zwieback.
Play with us, they said. Roll, pat, toss us! Slice, butter, dip, fill, break us. We know we smell good.
Bread is a beautiful thing — venerable, inclusive, eternal, irresistible. Staff of life and a sacrament, it pays our way and is a gift from every culture and ethnicity in the world.
Just naming these breads makes me happy. I daresay I feel a tad cosmopolitan because I’ve actually tasted all of them and more. What do you reach for when the bread basket is passed around?
In Lesléa’s poem, it’s nice to be reminded that bread is the one food that unites us all. Her fabulous extended metaphor is powerful poetic gluten that makes this poem rock any way you slice it.
* * *
ACCORDING TO BREAD
by Lesléa Newman
I may be a crusty old heel
full of half-baked ideas
I may loaf around
and do a crummy job
We both know
I always need dough
and more often than not
my life is toast
So tear me apart
eat me alive
swallow me whole
or punch me down
as long as you butter me up
and knead me, honey
whenever you’re in a jam
I will rise
Copyright © 2013 by Lesléa Newman. Reprinted by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
* * *
Roti, proja, piadina. Melonpan, naan, michetta. Matzo, hushpuppy, hoecake, scone, muffin, doughnut.
Scientific studies (ahem!) claim that a person’s choice of bread says a lot about his/her personality. If you favor White, for example, you’re likely a traditionalist. Pumpernickel lovers are thought to be deep thinkers, while those who go for Multigrain are practical and health conscious.
What’s that? You like Sourdough? Hello, lively and vibrant person! I’d love to chat you up in the City by the Bay. And listen to me, sublime Mr. Flatbread: I know your simple, understated appearance masks a very exotic soul. Speak to me of foreign lands, ancient cultures, chiles and curries. You seduce with the fragrance of oregano and rosemary.
What’s Mr. Cornelius’s favorite bread?
It’s a toss-up between this:
and these :):
As for me, just call me Papadum:
Not necessarily my fave bread, but I sure love its name.
Don’t you love how bread leavens the playing field?
* * *
Now you knead to check out today’s Poetry Friday Roundup. The lovely Ms. Tara has the full menu of poetic goodies at A Teaching Life.
Have a fabulous Labor Day weekend, baking bread and loafing around.
Arepa, Babka, Coppia Ferrarese.
End of roll call.
Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.