My Grandmother's Bread

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As Da Vinci staring at a pure slab of marble with chisel in hand

Or Picasso before an empty easel during his Blue Period
So would my grandmother stand preparing her bread.
The tools of her craft would be laid out before her on the table:

The jar of flour standing at attention and ready for battle,

The sinful tub of Crisco smiling at its role,
The ever growing monster of dough spilling forth from the bowl,
And the most precious things my grandmother owned: her hands.
I would stand there in what could only be called awe

As I watched this old woman, this fisherman’s daughter transcend

Into a whirling white powder dervish

Transformed as a new wheat muse, she would begin to knead.

In circles and punches and pulls

She would create these beautiful little marvels.
My six-year old frame would strain forth on tiptoes to see her creation.
Humming to herself she placed the little loaves into their homes and laid them to rest on her pink terry bedspread.
I ever impatient would begin to pace as she cleaned up her workshop and told me stories of back home and her mum and the sea.
Then at the golden minute which only she seemed to be able to sense

She would wake them from their slumber and place them into the fire bath.
Sitting quietly to knit socks or drink her tea, I would begin to run circles through the kitchen and back through the living room.
Trying to kill time as the aroma filled my head and my stomach began to growl.
She would simply stand and say, ”There ye go. It’s time.”
Gingerly she would turn the new goodness out on the rack to cool.
I would quickly climb the stool and peer over as she continued to work her magic.
Coddling the new slice with butter she would hand me the blue-and-white patterned plate with my reward.
Small little hands reaching out to the aged ones.
I would take the first bite and let this piece of heaven melt slowly on my tongue.
With a wink she would go back taking care of her golden baked babies.

Happily chewing and kicking my legs I would eat. Feeling safe, and warm, and loved.
Oblivious that this moment would soon become a memory.

That one day I would stand taller and straighter than my grandmother.
That we would talk on the phone and see each other even less.

“Yes, Granny, I should be home for Christmas.”
That I would hear through second hand stories of her disappearing
Not by gentle death but by cruel age.
No longer would her hands be able to mix the water and the flour.
Pain in her arms would stop her from using her tough love on the dough.
Soon forgetting the recipe or birthdays she would no longer be that artist.
If I had only known as I licked the melted butter from my fingers
But then again in my childish innocence I thought this would always be.
Me sitting on the stool nibbling crust as I watched one of the most amazing women I have ever known do her work.

Perhaps if I run real fast, through the living room and past the dining room into the kitchen, I will find her standing there.
“Granny, Granny, Wait! I’m here. I’m here. Don’t start without me.” My Shirley temple curls bouncing as I shout.

My eyes and heart opened up and to take notice of all those little details that I missed before.

The sound of her laugh, the spots on her arms, the way it felt to be near her.
But my grandmother would probably just out her hands on her hips and say

“What alotta fuss heh? I haven’t started yet.”

And I would be able to watch one of the greats

Like Da Vinci staring at a pure slab of marble with chisel in hand

Or Picasso before an empty easel during his Blue Period,
So would my grandmother stand preparing her bread.

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