My Grandmother’s Homemade Bread*

My Dutch grandmother stood
in her kitchen kneading with
her small hands and pressing
and rolling with her much-loved

rolling-pin, and popping the
not yet laden with herbicide
and pesticide dough into a
baking pan and leaving it to

rise in glory until she re-
turned to slather the dough
with butter before putting
it in the 350 degree oven for

an hour only to remove the
pan with her oven mitts, place
it on the kitchen counter let-
ting it cool just long enough

before removing it and plac-
ing it on the kitchen table,
slicing it and slathering it
with butter while we several

grandchildren watched in
eager anticipation, perhaps
not unlike the Cratchit
children anticipating the

plum pudding. Years later
after my grandmother broke
her hip and was restricted
to a wheelchair, which I

used to race through the South-
side of Chicago shotgun home
from the kitchen through the
dining room into the living-

room back to the kitchen,
stated with a voice that
sounded like a line from
a black spiritual, “Oh,

my bread baking days are
over.” And that they were.
We grandchildren joked about
that declaration, mimicking

her elongated, spiritual
vibrato while we sat around
at church camp, but, truth
be told, we all missed the

kitchen ritual and, needless
to say, our grandmother’s
unbelievably wonderful,
homemade bread slathered

with freshly churned butter.

*With appreciation for the idea
to the Poetry Foundation for the
poem “Bread” by Richard Levine

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