by Richard Ilnicki
The breaking of bread
is no mere mundane event meant
to be shared around a table
of strangers who have been assembled
like a pack of unemployed actors,
rats with eyes bigger than their stomachs,
reluctantly dragged from the streets and alleys
into the church hall
for a buttered slice of salvation.
The significance is the appetite inside
not the bread, when the bread, of course,
is what really matters.
Unless, of course, you have been invited to break bread
with Andrei Vosnesensky, a master baker of poetry
who filled the kitchen's atmosphere with mythical metaphors.
Then, even the bread becomes secondary
to the calloused creative hands
gnarled by pounding, pulling, stripping,
stretching, tugging, squeezing
and the greasy pluck of fingers and palms
baked in the flame of a heart on fire.
The relentless hound's hands of this man
had been bathed in a boiling cauldron of need.
In this celestial the bread had become an extension
of the man's galaxy of thought
pulled apart like the dough body of a rag doll,
sometimes torn asunder down the middle
sometimes a crusty end of Russian Rye ripped off.
Here, in his dynamic presence you bite your tongue
because all you want is one small piece
to be shared with a man who ate
the bread of life wrapped in glaze
and laughed in the face of raised rejection
while dipping his bread
into a communal bowl of hot white gravy.
Richard Ilnicki is husband, father, grandfather, health club manager/personal trainer whose best friend, besides his wife, is his dog Jimmy.