In our ongoing seclusion, many of us have been rediscovering the pleasure and magic of baking bread. And this week’s poem, by Karen Swanson, beautifully celebrates both bread itself, with all its tactile delights, and one remarkable mother who crafted it. I hope that on this Mother’s Day, all of us are finding similar joys in sharing simple pleasures with the mothers and others who nurture us – in place, from afar or in thoughts.

Swanson, who splits her time between Bethel and Boothbay, comes from, as she describes, “generations of strong women and kind men. Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Finland, Sweden, Ireland … Farms.” She spends her time between walking and writing, teaching yoga and photographing, and, she writes, “feeling very lucky and wise to live in Maine.”

 

Bread

By Karen Swanson

 

You remember how it felt

to be

in the presence of your mother.

As you take your rings off to knead the bread, you remember –

 

the child who watched so closely

as her mother removed her wedding rings,

and placed them on the windowsill, to knead the Swedish Rye.

 

Everything familiar

suddenly seemed   to  rearrange  itself   into  the

Unfamiliar,

as you watched her hands,

separated from those rings.

 

She might have done anything, this woman who was your mother.

She might have played concert piano,

taken voice lessons and lived

in the city

with

her quick and liquid laugh, beautiful legs, and

kindness.

 

But there she was,

kneading the Swedish Rye with hope

that it would rise –

imagining

your delight, biting into a thick warm slice,

drenched with butter.

 

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Bread” copyright 2019 by Karen Swanson, appears by permission of the author.

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