(in the voice of my husband) 



crusty and warm, smelling of yeast
and earth, accompanied by grapes and cheese
and the soft wild herbs under a tree in spring
with the sun building its strength, warming
the soil, warming your winter bones,
sprouting the seeds of grain, holy, holy.

I cut bread as my grandparents did
by holding it against my heart and slicing
the knife in and around. My wife complains
that the end is rough. She slices it on a breadboard
with a serrated knife like a clinician, straight through,
as if it were not a body. Sometimes she even leaves it
the wrong way up. I turn it over patiently.
It is an insult to put the body of Christ on its head.

Old habits die hard, as they say;
I wouldn’t call myself a Christian
but a loaf of bread is a loaf of bread
and Jesus was a man in the line
of enlightened teachers. He made
some mistakes and the church many more.
It’s ironic that Jesus stood pointing the way
and everyone is still looking at his finger.

He said, ‘Cleave the wood
and you’ll find me there,
turn a stone and there I’ll be’
or something like that.

Christ in the wood, in the stone,
in the soil that grows the rye,
in the muscles of the baker’s hands,
in the sweet yeast smell in the darkest hours,
in the shy girls in aprons counting coins into your hand,
in the sparkling tiles underfoot,
holy, all holy.

And the hand that holds the knife,
the hand of my wife passing a slice,
neat and straight and perfect for toasting.
It sponges with the life of yeast and rye,
with sunshine and the minerals of the earth,
holy, holy, holy, holy.


from The Sparrow, by Belinda Broughton

23 thoughts on “Bread

  1. Stunning…beauteously, wondrously stunning! Let others admire the technique with glowing words. I just want to stop and pray for the beautiful soul who has touched my heart tonight.

  2. Your husband sounds like a very good man indeed. What a wonderful poem you have written to honour him.

  3. How beautiful, my grandmother also cut her bread against her body, she would butter it first. This was in Manchester England, I suspect the mill towns were full of women cutting their lifes bread for their families…Has your book been published yet, is this poem from it? Please send one to me, or tell me how I can order it.

    1. Thanks Nichole. It is a poignant image of all those women.
      Yes this poem is in The Sparrow. It was to come out at about the time that Ervin had his heart operation. So, probably in a couple of months.

  4. Bread is holy. That you can go from dust and water to that gloriously alive springy dough then to that life-sustaining infinite-variety of sustenance that is bread can only be a divine miracle. I love the images you paint here.

  5. This touched me very deeply. I feel a holiness in bread and am glad to hear that I’m not alone in this. I also feel like I know your husband through your love and your words. Thanks for sharing him.

      1. We shall have to continue seeding the trans-continental inspiration bank together. 🙂

        So, how will I know when your book is out? You’ll make a blog post, perhaps? Available in US?

  6. This is lovely, Belinda. Full of the pathos of tradition and heritage. What bread is all about. There are few things that say more about who you are and where you are from than what kind of bread you eat (and, I guess, how you cut it). Bread is close to my heart and Alice’s piece set me off as well. She does that a lot…

    1. I’m glad you like it. Can you give me a link to what you wrote please Johnny? I am not sure where yo find it. btw, I love your ‘mind’s continuing verbal wars with itself’. my own bore me to pieces, but I like reading other people’s

      1. Well, if I could give you a link to the unfinished piece in my files, I certainly would, but… 😉
        As soon as it’s finished and posted, I will do my best to let you know.

        Thanks for that–my wars kind of bore me too, though. Those are something I didn’t take to seriously to be honest. Funny how that goes, isn’t it? Like that piece, “my name” that I wrote. Really just meant it as a light sort of “one-off” piece, but there it went, skyrocketing to the #1 slot. Go figure.
        I do have a few more of those ready, at least potentially. Just been Awfully stupid busy. Any time and/or energy I have for poesy I try to spend on pieces that have more weight for me. I’ve been getting a bit more time of late so maybe I’ll see about getting one up for Wednesday–Thanks! I think I need a little pushing right about now.

        1. it is strange sometimes isn’t it this world of blogging. not to mention the mind! and yes, these things take time. I have time, not that I use it

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