Chilindrina—trifle or joke; sugar-coated bun.

Down the hill I ran

Rushed not by gravity’s trail,

But the scent of kilned yeast and lard

Cutting clean through wet dirt air.

Berna’s bakery lacked a storefront;

A house hidden away from the gaze of daily concern,

Walking by empty bedrooms to reach

His cavernous brick oven.

The hands that massaged

Wheat flour, water, eggs, and softened butter

Handled all transactions—

No receipts, no regrets—

Exchanging dough for dough.

It wasn’t his missing eye, or the missing teeth—

Partially covered by a wispy, gapped mustache—

His reckless gut running over his cupped pants,

Or the translucent comb-over of woolen hair

Floating over his head like a halo

That made me want to let the cup

Of having to be alone with him pass from me.

It was that bread kneaded time into isolated moments—

Living organisms with needs of their own—

Breaking a man who broke his bread in abandon,

Selfishly trying to reconstruct his sight,

Bonding the bitterness that bred love

In other hearts but his:

Yolk wash-varnished biscuit to a glossy sclera,

Cornea glints of brown sugar crystals,

Fondant iris of yellow, vanilla extract

With a cracked lens at its peak,

Cinnamon-infused retina of buttery sponge—

Dr. Frankenstein and his monster baked into one man.

Each one was good enough to eat a hundred,

Brimming hot from the brown paper bag

That warmed me down to the ribs.

Its crumbles disappeared to nothing on my tongue

As I tore apart its brioche-browned flesh—

Sand castles awashed by a sea of saliva

And cinnamoned coffee in chipped clay mugs.

“It’s the fact that he’s hideous

And unlovable that makes the bread so good,”

Mom said, her palms cradling its sweetness warm;

A required chastity more attractive men lacked—

Near perfect semispheres to crown any Roman temple—

Squandered on those who forsook affairs with solitude.  




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