First off, this isn’t an ode. Not in the real, Webster’s definition, kind of way. It’s more of a blog about toast. Maybe a blogode? Or what ee cummings would have written about toast if he was a toast-eating, ode-eating dude in 2013 with a blog. Whatever, this is about toast. If you can’t handle my mangling of the ode format, you need more toast in your life.
Toast is love and independence and freedom all in one satisfying crunch
Trailing crumbs and dribbles of sugary goodness in my lap.
When I was sick, I’d lie on the couch and my mother would make me
Toast with butter and honey.
Once my ankle met too well the spokes of a bicycle. The bony gore
Left me on the couch for weeks, festering instead of healing.
Every day she made me toast and pushed my sweaty hair off my face.
I can still taste it on my tongue forty-one years later.
The first thing I ever made to nourish myself, aside from the time
My sister and I squeezed a fresh tube of Crest into minty pies for our tea party,
Was toast. Mom looked over my shoulder, paused to sip her coffee and offer
Directions. Middle of the slot, don’t touch it yet! and never stick the knife in
Either the toaster or the jelly jar. I stood on the old red step stool and proved
Myself bigger than my kindergarten photo. Buttered toast with jam.
I can still taste it on my tongue thirty-eight years later.
A high school senior, I filled out scholarship applications and college
Essays and flipped through the Williams Sonoma catalogue. It took three months
Of ferrying plates of eggs, pouring coffee, ignoring offers from old men to
Buy that toaster. It was more beautiful than the photo. I left it in the box but
Would run my finger over its guaranteed cool-to-the-touch surface whenever
I got scared about if my dreams could possibly become my reality. One day I pulled it
Out and made a piece of toast. Homemade bread, sliced thick, my mom’s fresh
Blackberry jam still tasting like last summer’s sunshine.
I can still taste it on my tongue twenty-six years later.
I made toast for my son this morning. I sliced a fresh loaf of bread, made just the
Other day. I brushed away the crumbs, and sipped a cup of coffee while I waited in
My grown-up kitchen, knife and spoon set precisely across the edge of the waiting plate.
The smell of the bread browning takes me back.
The smell of the strawberry jam takes me back.
The smell of the butter melting into the tiny holes takes me back.
Back to a time when toast was the taste of love and independence and freedom.
I haven’t had toast in a long time. Not like the toast of my yesteryears. Gluten free bread just isn’t quite the same. But I make toast for my kids and I wonder if they’ll remember toast from their childhood. Will it taste like home to them or will it be eclipsed by the memories of other things I make them? Things like homemade bagels and chocolate chip banana bread muffins and waffles on Saturday mornings. I won’t ask them. But I will wonder.