Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

0142 Buttering Bread - Poem by Michael Shepherd

I was buttering bread for sandwiches
when I saw myself doing this
as I must have watched you all those years ago,
and forgotten ever since 'til now -
the butter firmly spread right to the edges of the crust,
pressed into the yielding bread,
and then the surplus gently scraped off on the knife

with all the careful but not mean economy
of a family which after your father's lungs
gave in to the cotton dust of the mill
where he worked so proudly for John Bright
the reformer (and there's a thought)
and your mother opened the front door of your home,
whose street-front window now became
a front-room shop for home-made cakes
so that the neighbours' help was charity with dignity and fair exchange;
the butter for the scones
you made before you left for morning school
came from out of a wooden tub
from the 'Italian warehouseman' or
the very first Co-op, down in Toad Lane...

Whether the tears poised at the corners of the eyes
were of sadness or of gratitude
for this so unexpected memory of the living dead
I couldn't say. But now,
gratitude. And, and, beauty.

Comments about 0142 Buttering Bread by Michael Shepherd

  • (5/17/2005 1:40:00 PM)

    I love this, Michael. It is homey, very British, and made me think that tears come to our eyes at the most unexpected, homey moments. The image you created tugs at the heartstrings.

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  • (5/14/2005 2:04:00 PM)

    Simple things make us recall all sorts, Michael. A buttercup memory brimming with evocations of past times.

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Read poems about / on: family, memory, home, father, mother, beauty, shopping, work

Poem Submitted: Saturday, May 14, 2005

Poem Edited: Friday, July 14, 2006

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