Written for my friend Molly for her 30th Birthday on 8/18/2012*

Her black cotton dress greys from puffs of flour
and her spaghetti strap keeps slipping off one shoulder
as she moves from counter to cast-iron skillet,
rolling out flatbread crafted lovingly by hand.
Gently lying the dough in the hot seasoned pan,
a smile plays across her lips as she watches it puff and brown,
dress clinging as beads of sweat trickle
down the small of her back,
accentuating her ample curves.

Nina Simone croons in the air,
her seductive songs mingling
with the scent of freshly baked bread.
A half-drunk glass of a good, strong red nearby,
the kitchen always open to friends who seek
satisfying sustenance and charming conversation,
visitors pleasantly surprised to discover
that the style, grace, and beauty of an old world
live on in their generous hostess.

*I wrote this poem many years ago and have rarely shared it, but I always thought it was one of my best poems in that I wrote it about an experience enjoying a meal at my friend’s house and felt like I captured the mood for others to see/feel. Everything in this poem is as I remember, the images collected from not one but several visits to Molly’s home. I hadn’t thought about the poem in years until my sister Lori got me interested in Bonnie Ohara’s “Bread Baking for Beginners” cookbook, which is the only cookbook I’ve ever read cover-to-cover. Ms. Jenna Fischer’s posts and Instagram stories, along with my sister Lori’s texts and photos of her baking, have inspired me to learn how to bake bread. I am still early on in this process, but I have found bread baking to be an activity that grounds and calms me in the midst of a chaotic world. I hope that more and more people start baking bread. There is something tremendously healing about this art.

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