Friday, February 24, 2012

Breaking Cornbread by Nanci Engle

Nanci Engle is from West Virginia and remains a mountain girl at heart. 

She is a visual artist, as well as a poet and essay writer.  She started writing four years ago at a point in her life when she felt she had nothing to say and that no one would listen and quickly became known as the member of the writing class who would literally be writing in the car on the way to class and in the hallway before the teacher closed the door to the classroom.  When it came time for her to read, the instructor would always ask, "Are you going to make us laugh today, or are you going to make us cry?" 

Nanci is currently a member of The Easy Writers.

Hear Nanci read her work on Wednesday, February 29 at 7pm at Friendswood Public Library.

Breaking Cornbread

Today I stood on my tip-toes
and used both hands
to take the heavy iron skillet down from the shelf,
then slid it into the oven for warming.

Today I solemnly, almost reverently,
 measured and mixed cornmeal, flour,
 salt, baking powder, shortening,
 milk, and eggs.

Today I poured that golden batter
into the piping hot skillet
and placed it in the oven to rise,
bake, and transform its simple self.

Today I laid an altar on a placemat
with a single plate, a knife, a soft cloth napkin,
and a nob of softened sweet cream butter.

Today I carefully pulled that hot skillet from the oven
taking a long moment to savor the aroma
and to admire the crispy brown edges.

Today I sat with my hands folded in my lap
and my heart full of thanksgiving.

Today I broke that bread and I cried.

I cried because each year on May 27th,
my Momma’s birthday,
my friend Elizabeth would share a bowl of strawberry ice cream
with me because it had been her favorite.

I cried because each year on June 22nd,
my Daddy’s birthday,
my friend Elizabeth would share a slice of pecan pie
with me because it had been his favorite.

I cried because it is February 19th,
and it is a new year,
and I am breaking cornbread
for Elizabeth.

In memory of Gladys Elizabeth Kalil

Nanci Engle

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