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Monday, December 23, 2013


by Patricia Smith Ranzoni

This morning’s bread is a recipe and a half to make full use
of yesterday’s ricotta whey. I mix and think, the drop leaf
of my old oak work table crying in rhythm with my kneading,
Mandela’s death on the radio turning into a living ingredient.

It comes to me, making this week’s oatmeal-molasses
this enriched way, that I need to look up Soweto Bread
and invent an outback Maine version, in honor, the way
our Obama Bread rose from the joy we elders earned.

Wondering at my work, I knead. And drizzle Nebali tree olive oil 
all the way from the Canaan Fair Trade route from Palestinian
farmers to brother Schaibles’ caravan downeast, its bittersweet
anointing a clear film consecrating the overcoming of apartheid
in South Africa and how, once we knew, we wrote, petitioned,
and marched, the way, after television made it this far north,
showing us, we did over our own country’s shame.

Wondering at my work, I gaze into this dough lifting
by this fire here in this north, for hope, asking, if, as we
keep hearing, people who plant trees in whose shade they know 
they will not live to sit have begun to know the meaning of life,
what can be said of those who uproot, ax, chainsaw, burn,
rip out by thousands ancient trees of others, the ancestral
food and means trees of others? The very identifying
and sacramental trees of others? The olive trees of neighbors?

Do separation barriers make them not neighbors anymore
or neighbors held apart in a less than human way? Wondering
at my work.

     Do not the Mandelas of the world foretell
     that the writing on the walls of the oppressed
     proves other Freedom Days are rising?
     That making bread with Palestinian oil in Maine,
     we must make up our own minds and, like Soweto,
                                        say so?

Health troubles keep Patricia Smith Ranzoni from public participation so she relies on joining her voice this way. Her unschooled work documenting the Canadian-American, mixed-blood Yankee cultures of her people has been published across the country and abroad, including past issues of The New Verse News and most recently in Parallel Uni-Verse, Tuesday Anthology of the Oregon Coast, and Bedding Vows, Love Poems from Outback Maine (North Country Press), her 9th collection. She participates electronically with the Blue Hill Peninsula Peace & Justice group.