Ode to Bread

One of an occasional series of bread-related literature.

bread

Ode to Bread

Bread,
you rise
from flour,
water
and fire.
Dense or light,
flattened or round,
you duplicate
the mother’s
rounded womb,
and earth’s
twice-yearly
swelling.
How simple
you are, bread,
and how profound!
You line up
on the baker’s
powdered trays
like silverware or plates
or pieces of paper
and suddenly
life washes
over you,
there’s the joining of seed
and fire,
and you’re growing, growing
all at once
like
hips, mouths, breasts,
mounds of earth,
or people’s lives.
The temperature rises, you’re overwhelmed
by fullness, the roar
of fertility,
and suddenly
your golden color is fixed.
And when your little wombs
were seeded,
a brown scar
laid its burn the length
of your two halves’
toasted
juncture.
Now,
whole,
you are
mankind’s energy,
a miracle often admired,
the will to live itself.

O bread familiar to every mouth,
we will not kneel before you:
men
do no
implore
unclear gods
or obscure angels:
we will make our own bread
out of sea and soil,
we will plant wheat
on our earth and the planets,
bread for every mouth,
for every person,
our daily bread.
Because we plant its seed
and grow it
not for one man
but for all,
there will be enough:
there will be bread
for all the peoples of the earth.
And we will also share with one another
whatever has
the shape and the flavor of bread:
the earth itself,
beauty
and love–
all
taste like bread
and have its shape,
the germination of wheat.
Everything
exists to be shared,
to be freely given,
to multiply.

This is why, bread,
if you flee
from mankind’s houses,
if they hide you away
or deny you,
if the greedy man
pimps for you or
the rich man
takes you over,
if the wheat
does not yearn for the furrow and the soil:
then, bread,
we will refuse to pray:
bread
we will refuse to beg.
We will fight for you instead, side by side with the others,
with everyone who knows hunger.
We will go after you
in every river and in the air.
We will divide the entire earth among ourselves
so that you may germinate,
and the earth will go forward
with us:
water, fire, and mankind
fighting at our side.
Crowned
with sheafs of wheat,
we  will win
earth and bread for everyone.
Then
life itself
will have the shape of bread,
deep and simple,
immeasurable and pure.
Every living thing
will have its share
of soil and life,
and the bread we eat each morning,
everyone’s daily bread,
will be hallowed
and sacred,
because it will have been won
by the longest and costliest
of human struggles.

This earthly Victory
does not have wings:
she wears bread on her shoulders instead.
Courageously she soars,
setting the world free,
like a baker
born aloft on the wind.

– Pablo Neruda

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