Russian Oven by George Moore

Russian Oven

Circulating among stars,
the smoke comes back to haunt
the bread, which is its trophy,

cured extreme, the one simple
subject of the oven’s hot sentences,
how smoke keeps from cooling

through a brick interweave
of the stones growing heat,
till the ghost stands in the center.

Black as the rye of a good year,
the bread is rubbed round by
the earth’s movements;

the soft core breathes a low
Za zdorov’e! and an old world
opens like a hungry mouth.

We share a table, a plate,
and a knife like a flag
in a jam jar,

and nothing is foreign,
nothing left out, the loaf
like a boat, or the span

of a bridge, a pair of hands
warmed in a pair of hands held
above a single hearth.

by George Moore

Editor’s note: This poem uses bread as an allegory for the human condition—don’t we all yearn for connection and warmth?


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