Pandemic Bread – a poem by Blair Kilpatrick

Pandemic Bread
on reading Meta Kušar’s Ljubljana no. 71 



A messenger arrives 
slender and pale
announces herself 
with a string of titles
reclines on the spine 
splits apart at the center
pages swing open
on a double hinge

La voix dans le corps
The Voice in the Body
Glas v telesu 


Three different voices
but one language shared
by three women poets
from a small green land 
of mountains and caverns
rivers underground
dragons and bridges
where writers abound

Their sweet mother tongue
transplanted turned sour
my grandmother said 
as she kneaded her bread
a weight to abandon
to forget and erase
—until I resolved  
to claim it again

Now a book in Slovene
(and English and French)
opens itself 
to the lesson I need
from a faraway poet
who tended her bread 
spun stories in words
not known to me yet


The poet reminds us 
to be patient and wait
for a gradual ripening 
of what matters most
whether bread or poem
soul or song
they grow together
in shared time and place

Fermentation continues
in the cold and dark
when our back is turned
even when we forget
each pocket of air
will rise and expand
gluten grown strong
with each intertwined strand

An overworked dough
is bound to collapse
but flavor will deepen
when hands do not rush
when we pause to wonder
and we trust and wait
the gift will appear
that was ours
from the start

Background note by author: Meta Kušar is a well known Slovenian poet and essayist. Her long multi-part poem Ljubljana (2003) was subsequently included in the trilingual anthology La voix dans le corps/ The Voice in the Body/ Glas v telesu: trois poetesses slovènes; Ljubljana: Slovene Writers Association (2005). 

Blair Kilpatrick is a psychologist and musician in Berkeley, California. She is the author of Accordion Dreams: A Journey into Cajun and Creole Music (U. Press Mississippi, 2009). She was the recipient of the first annual Slovenian Literary Award (2019) and is currently working on a family roots memoir. In her free time, she enjoys baking bread, playing the Cajun accordion with her fiddler husband, and visiting their adult children in Toronto and New York. Her website is www.blairkilpatrick.com

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