“Baker” by J.A. Hulstine

J.A. Hulstine


I’m in love with the skinny baker
with the long french loaves
and tell him he’s an artist.
I buy his walnut-raisin no sugar,
multi-grain sliced,
honey wheat baguettes,
and we trade smiles and his bread
for my money,
small talk the weather,
and the mileage of our cars.

Sometimes there’s change,
a few dimes, a quarter, exact
to the penny, then the wrap
in white bags then brown,
with handles.

Yesterday I was the last to leave,
and we chatted,
opened the shelter of ourselves—
how I eat the bread
all the way home, how
my car is filled with crumbs,
and he, how tired he is,
how the store opens at eight
but people come in at seven,
how the feel of the unbaked
is elastic, smooth,
a skin the fingers know.

You might wonder if I lingered or
if he held the door,
or if, for a second,
silence and gaze were words,
but there was
more in my dumbstruck secret,
kneaded then baked in the heat.

from Rattle #21, Summer 2004

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