Baruch, the Baker – a poem … and your Wednesday Writing Prompt



BARUCH, THE BAKER

Your heart is smarter, my Baruch,
then your head,
which is smart indeed –
and your hands and gnarly fingers
are smarter still.
They fashion bread from
cream-colored flours,
silky to the touch.
Kneading the dough
patiently, patiently
letting it rise
while I sleep –
safe, in my bed.

Up at six a.m. we walk sleepily
down a lavender-gray street,
an apricot sun peeking at us
and, rising higher in the sky,
it seemingly follows us to you.

Cheer-filled arrival with greetings
and smiles from dear Baruch and
warm sugar smells, yeasty scents
and the sight of golden loaves,
some voluptuous rounds and
others, sturdy rectangulars.
You have baked cinnamon rolls,
a child’s delight, pies and
sticky buns too…and cookies!

“We’ll take a French bread” my Mom says
pointing to a crispy brown baguette.
“And a raisin bread.”
She adds …
“We’ll need that sliced.”

I watch your hands flit gracefully
like butterflies in a green valley
stopping here and then there
to pull fragrant loaves from display
and slicing them, neatly packaging,
then reaching down over the counter
you hand me a little bag of rugelach.

As I look up, reaching for your gift
I stop breathing, arrested by
a wisp of blue on your forearm.
I am studious, a reader, dear Baruch,
I know what that tattoo means …
Looking down, with a whisper I choke
“Thank you, Baruch!”
swallowing that lump of sadness,
trying not to show my tears.
What right have I to tears?
But then you, dear Baruch, come
bounding round the counter
with warm hugs and soft tissues,
as though I was the one hurt.
From that day forever more,
I saw you only in long sleeves.

At lunchtime, I demanded –
“Mom, tell me about Baruch.”
And she does.
I am pensive over our meal,
canned marinara and slices of
of your baguette.
Dear Baruch, with each salty bite
I eat your tears and
the blood of your daughter.
Nights she stares at me from that
sepia photo by your register.

Baruch, did she, like me, assume
a grown-up life
of school and jobs,
marriage and children?
And you! You must have assumed
the tender comfort of
her love in your old age.
Do you hold the vision of her
young and happy in your
brave, kindly old heart?
Does your ear still play back
her childish laughter,
the sound of her voice
begging for a story?
Do your warm brown eyes still hold
her smile in remembrance?
When you see little girls like me,
does your anguish grow?

Dear Baruch, our dear Baruch
how will you set your child free
from that faraway land and
cold, unmarked mass grave?

© 2008, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; photograph of a holocaust survivor displaying his arm tattoo courtesy of Frankie Fouganthin under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

 “The first time it was reported that our friends were being butchered there was a cry of horror. Then a hundred were butchered. But when a thousand were butchered and there was no end to the butchery, a blanket of silence spread.
When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out ‘stop!’

“When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible. When sufferings become unendurable the cries are no longer heard. The cries, too, fall like rain in summer.”
Bertolt Brecht, Selected Poems

Some folks say they don’t believe there was a Jewish Holocaust and some young people are unaware that it happened. Some folks say “never again,” but there are 24 or more genocides, including Gaza, that are happening even as I write this post, even as you read it. Some Americans fail to recognize or don’t want to acknowledge that this country was partly built on a foundation of death. Even the Bible is weighted with stories of genocide.

Tell us about your own pain, perceptions and perhaps resolutions born of this knowledge. Write of your awakening to this reality as a child, your adult perceptions or, perhaps depending on where you live, your first-hand experience.

All poetry shared by you will be posted here next Tuesday. The deadline is Monday evening, May 22 at 8 pm PDT.  If you share a poem for the first time, please send a brief bio and photo to thepoetbyday@gmail.com.  These will be used to introduce new participants to readers. Thank you!

Chief Settle (public domain photograph)

“My people are few. They resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain…There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell-paved floor, but that time long since passed away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory.”  Chief Seattle, The Chief Seattle’s Speech


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11 Comments on “Baruch, the Baker – a poem … and your Wednesday Writing Prompt

  1. BERLIN 1933

    Find the glass window set in the cobbles
    outside Humboldt’s University. You’ll
    need to angle your view and wait until
    the light reveals the whiteness of the empty
    shelves,a void in Europe’s heart.
    Judischen, entartate. This is where
    they began the burning of the books,
    flames and sparks, yellow like stars,lighting the way
    to ghettos, wagons, lines of wire, ashes, bones.

    Ghosts gather, tug at your sleeve politely,
    plead that you read the Book of the Dead.
    Its opening page lies at your feet. Descend
    to lamentation’s rainbow.

    SHOES

    Shoes, pointing in all directions
    as if they could not decide which
    way to go. Ahead the river,
    wide and fast, its shore empty of
    boats.And people.The shoes, fissured,
    soiled, heels broken; children’s clogs.As

    they stood in their final sunlight:
    prayers? Huddles of comfort? Piss and
    shit leaking onto ancient leather.
    Hurled backwards, no funeral flowers
    save the smoke curling from the guns,
    downwards, where the Duna receives
    them, cold, reddening as it flows,
    mere dross and cargo. A flask of
    spirits opened, a cigarette
    lit, safety catches on, the world
    more Judenfrei.
    Shoes, now again
    pointing in all directions.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for the moving poem, Jamie. It has the ring of true life.

    child rulebook

    all conquerors
    learned all they needed
    from the child rulebook.
    of course, it being
    a CHILD’s rulebook,
    some rules contradict others.
    “i was here first”
    will fall before
    “my army can beat up your army.”
    “i’m gonna tell on you”
    derives from
    “you will get it if mom finds out”
    but is so often outmatched
    by “now look what you made me do”
    which is a corollary of
    “it’s all your fault.”

    the Standard Oil Company,
    a conqueror from its inception,
    practiced
    “kick their ass/get their gas”
    long before those words
    we’re found on t-shirts.

    in 1979
    after a puppet government
    set up by the US
    was deposed,
    and hostages were taken
    at the American embassy,
    Mickey Mouse
    appeared on a T-shirt
    flipping a bird and saying,
    “Hey, Iran!”

    now our roost is presided over
    seemingly by a turgid towhead
    with the impulse control
    of an otter
    and a sense of entitlement
    derived from a lifetime
    of always getting
    all the toys
    he wants.

    dark forces pull his strings.

    the human population
    of Citizens United
    is zero,
    as is
    its regard
    for humanity.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. One of the most poignant and moving piece of poetry I have read in a while. The flow of words, the exposition of pain is brilliant. I would love to take part in the Wednesday prompt. Lets see if I can churn out something,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Jamie,

    Here’s my second response:

    Inhumanity Is Good

    Your inhumanity will prove
    how human you are.

    Neglect one another.
    Abuse one another.

    Seal each other in homes
    until old and weak die.

    Run pedestrians down.
    Bomb hospitals.

    Use the innocent as shields.
    Use the knives you carry.

    Kill babies, rape mothers.
    Prove how human you are.

    Defend your inhumanity.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Jamie,

    Here’s my first response:

    Ethnic Cleanser

    removes unsightly
    grease and dirt of people
    who spoil your landscape.

    Cleans as it polishes, replaces
    their awful smell with fresh fragrances.
    their profane beliefs with fresh air.
    their noisy children with heavenly quiet.
    our history with revised pages.
    Preserves our pure culture.

    They are an infection to be eradicated.
    Their unmarked graves forgotten.

    Ethnic cleanser for a cleaner society.
    Buy into this great product.
    Popularly known as genocide.

    Liked by 1 person

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