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JAMES OWENS

 

 

 

James Owens's most recent collection of poems is Mortalia (FutureCycle Press, 2015). His poems, stories, and translations appear widely in literary journals, including publications in The Fourth River, Connecticut River Review, Cortland Review, and Poetry Ireland Review. He lives in Indiana and northern Ontario.

 

 

 

 

The Discovery of Bread

 

 

My son was nine. We searched the bakery shelves
for the fancy, artisanal loaves he craved,

bread dense with whole grains of oat or rye,
honey-sweet, warm with imbraided garlic cloves,

crusts glinting with cracked nuggets of salt,
the savors of a richer world than he had known.

I want to tell you how he spoke the word,
careful in touching it, since asking might be

too much to risk, desire an offense, an error,
standing shy in the kitchen of his newly divorced,

and so newly strange, father's house, a boy
just learning the hints of the body his mother

and I had made for him. You must know this:
the archetypes of nourishment were sickness

to his flesh, nausea and ache, sensitivity
so accurate that pinpoint drops of milk

from someone else's spilled glass once seared
a row of crimson welts onto his bare arm,

that one bite of scrambled egg caused vomiting,
that he had grown cautious from the betrayals

of so much meant to nurture. But that year
we found some kinds of bread he could eat,

knowledge that a small good thing was possible.
Can you imagine how I loved the loaves

we bought together? We were planning dinner,
and he said, Could we just go and get some bread?

And so he would say bread. I won't say prayer,
but know his mouth awkward with pleasure,

humbled in asking such a word to become his flesh.

 

©2017 James Owens

 

 

Author Links

 

Poetry in The Blue Hour

Poetry in The Poppy Road Review

Poetry in The Adirondack Review

 

 

 

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