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
silky to the touch.
Kneading the dough
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
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,
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. These will be used to introduce new participants to readers. Thank you!
“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,