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Bread Making

By Jan Priddy

I was still a young girl, still trying to be the sort of person society expected girls to be in the 50s and 60s by doing the chores expected of girls, when my mother stood over me in her kitchen and taught me to bake bread, following her recipe from before I was born, stirring the soft flour with the packet of yeast and water and corn oil, kneading the yeasty dough before folding it into four loaves that rose waiting for the oven, and me waiting the long hour while my bread baked until it came from the oven: beautiful fragrant loaves all golden brown and steamy, tipped out onto racks before I was allowed to cut warm tender slices, thick and crumbly and spread with margarine my mother bought to save money, and the bright red jam Mom made from sugar and fresh strawberries that I helped her pick north of Seattle, and each bite deep into the gooey slices left my cheeks sticky with jam—all those years ago—until here now, I bake bread in my own kitchen, serving the bread to my husband and myself, the berry jam homemade too just as my mother taught me, even while the world diminishes these womanly crafts, and punishes me for insisting, for demanding that not merely what I make but what I am—be valued.

Jan Priddy is a walker of beaches and weaver of wool and words whose work has been nominated or became a finalist for numerous awards including a Pushcart, and appeared in CALYX, Liminal Stories, The Humanist, North American Review, anthologies about running and race, and dozens of other publications.

Art by Jeff Kallet.


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