The Secrets of Challah

Dara Barnat

My mother braids secrets
into her Challah,
folds them into pouches
of heavy dough,
kneads them to become perfect,
round loaves.

Many times I’ve watched her
bake, she adds flour or water,
depending on the texture,
and molds the skin,
a technique she learned
years ago.

Perhaps standing closer,
I might have grasped
that the air bubbles
were not really air bubbles, but
the saddest parts
of our history, the history
that finds you.

To her credit,
what better place to hide
secrets than in Challah,
where they can be shaped
into a familiar
nourishment.

        Not long ago my mother left me
a note: keep the music on,
it is playing for the bread,
and when I checked,
a loaf was in the oven, rising
and sweet.

Dara Barnat's chapbook Headwind Migration was released by Pudding House Publications in 2009, and her poems have appeared in Poet Lore, Crab Orchard Review, Salamander, and Arc. Her translation work has appeared in Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal. Dara currently teaches poetry and creative writing at Tel Aviv University.

"The Secrets of Challah" was originally printed in 13th Warrior Review, 2008.


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