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[image, unknown] [image, unknown] Bread


The spoon was walking, full, off the table
to reach the poor and all their Sundays,
all their lost mornings came rushing back
hungry as the lion’s eyes; the table was moving
toward the centre, breaking its legs
and all their journeys came inward to their stomachs
reeking of this great forest’s hunger
the loaf was walking out of the oven announcing
its magic yeast and the mouths of the poor
began to shake trying to catch the taste of its smoke

O bread that walked away from its smoke
only to deny that other smoke that sat
on the flat of the lip, begging for the broth
of the frog to warm the frost-bitten mouths
O soles so rich in holes from biting hard on the flesh
of the leather as if the journeys had led somewhere
looking at these soles it would have been nice
to keep for once the grain that they produced
to bake their own bread it would have been nice
to drink for once the milk from their cow
before they confiscated it from them
be nice, sitting up all night, unable to breathe
because of that asthmatic seizure, to smoke a rare leaf
be nice not to have been the man I have been!
but who can choose one’s own spoon
to eat at a round table to one’s heart’s desire
embroidered lace and all, the hearth at full glow
warming these rheumatic joints, a nice contemplation
of a beloved woman the song of Orpheus
eyeing at the end of the tunnel the mouth of the muse
calming this heart that sits on the palm of my desire
but having looked back and lost it all
when the spoon rolls off the table with its tomorrow
when the oven announces its fresh bread at a price
denied the multitude, denied my pocket I ask only
that when they hope for it begging on their knees
give them this bread, this universal gift!

Syl Cheney-Coker from THE BLOOD IN THE DESERT'S EYES (Heinemann)

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©Copyright: New Internationalist 1995

New Internationalist issue 267 magazine cover This article is from the May 1995 issue of New Internationalist.
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