A Trilogy for Bread
by Alice Collinsworth

Depending on the recipe,
Mother might slap the yeasty dough,
or pummel; other times her knead
was a peculiar caress.
Kept to the side, I watched, silent.
“Remember, bread is a living,
breathing thing,” she whispered softly,
not to me. Maybe to herself.

In church, they passed silver saucers
with doll-sized squares of hard white bread.
When I reached out, she slapped my hand,
then smiled apologetically –
at the serving deacon, not me.
“This is my body, take and eat,”
the preacher said. Why did I yearn
to partake of that sacrament?

Stale bread got crumbled, tossed in the yard
for wild birds. She flung handfuls like seed,
telling parables from the Bible
and stories of the Great Depression
when there wasn’t a morsel to spare
and even the sparrows went hungry.
“It was faith that got us through,” she said.
So where was Jesus with his magic
loaves and fishes? I dared not inquire.

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