Bound by bread

My confessional post about my white bread purchase yesterday stirred some emotions about white verses whole wheat bread, and so I thought I’d continue the conversation by posting a poem my mom wrote about my grandfather (her step-father) and the bread he served with dinner every night.

The Bread and Butter Gap
by Leana McClellan

“It’s good food,”
my stepfather says earnestly.
I have refused his third offer of bread and butter with dinner.
He holds his meaty hand up like a stop sign
indicating his final retreat,
for now.

Every visit for 25 years he has tried to ply me with bread and butter.
His bread is cottony white,
two loaves for a dollar.
His butter is on-sale, neon yellow margarine.
To me this combination signals instant heart failure.

86 years back, he was trained to fill up the empty space
left from sparse meals shared among 6 siblings,
with slabs of home sliced bread and butter,
touted to make you grow big and strong,
a pillowy cushion against hard times.

Now in his plentiful old age,
bread and butter is a comfort,
soft and smooth, a sensual memory booster,
still practical as a food pusher and plate polisher,
the substance of his blood and cells,
an impotent buffer against the passing of his time.

0 thoughts on “Bound by bread

  1. marina

    Wow, I hadn’t realised what an anathema white bread is to health-conscious people. I’m an unapologetic white bread eater – I don’t feel guilty about it at all. I’ve tried eating whole wheat bread several times, and hated it each time. In my case, I think any health benefit from eating whole wheat instead of white would be outweighed by the stress and sense of deprivation arising from not being able to eat white bread. 🙂 Am totally with your grandfather on this one.

  2. Marisa

    Frank–it sounds like you and my grandfather would have gotten along nicely.

    Marina–I applaud you for standing tall and embracing your white bread eating self! I stay away from it out of a sense of culinary guilt. I actually do enjoy it when I get an opportunity to eat it.


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