Rochelle Jewel Shapiro, “Pumpernickel”

The dark crust can hold a gleam
like a candlelit still life. Slice
through the crust to the grainy
richness of the innards. Held
in the mouth, the soft density
dissolves slowly, tricking the mind
into believing you are eating more
than you really are, like the miracle
of Christ multiplying
loaves of bread to feed the hungry.


When my father bit into pumpernickel,
his jaws clenched, the veins in his temple
swelled and you heard each chew
from across the room
which told the story of his hunger
in Russia as a boy, hiding
in the forest from the Cossacks.
Father took slice after slice, and watched
over our plates for leftovers.

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