(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