Black Bread by B. Fulton Jennes

She was lovely, I believed.
She wore her sadness as a gown;
it swirled around her ankles in thick ripples,
dipped low across her chest to reveal the
dark crevasse between her breasts
that fractured straight through to her heart,
weighted her down like the Virgin Queen,
incapacitated by hideous finery.
I spent my days alone with her.
She fed me black bread made from
black flour kept in a black canister.
It tasted like love.
She wrote the recipe on my soft skin,
instructed me to bake it for my children.
You cried the first time I fed you
a tiny morsel, mixed with something sweet
to cloak the afterbite.
Like so many things worth having,
it takes time to develop a taste
for love’s bitterness.
You’ll see me wear her gown
tomorrow and the next day.
I keep it hidden in the
darkest depths of my closet
and only put it on when
you and I are alone.
Someday, you’ll think I’m lovely.
Someday, the gown will fit you.
Hush now.
Eat your bread.
B. Fulton Jennes is a poet and educator who has led workshops for children, teens, and adults for 30 years. As a public-school English teacher, she introduced thousands of students to performance poetry and continues to advise a teen spoken-word team. Recently, Jennes was selected to attend the Breadloaf Writing Conference as a general contributor; her poem “Not” was awarded second place in the Connecticut Poetry Society’s annual competition and will appear in the 2020 edition of the Connecticut River Review.