filling the empty nest with food

The Poetry of Cinnamon Toast

Cinnamon ToastA good friend sent me this poem recently, a gentle reminder of what’s important about food and cooking and eating.  Sometimes, I need a reminder: a hit-over-the-head reminder like the Laputians in Gulliver’s Travels whose servants follow them around and shake rattles in their faces to jolt them from their self-absorbed day-dreaming and “Deep Thoughts” to get them to focus on the realities of  the world around them.

This is the right season to remember not to allow corporate America to trivialize and sentimentalize the joy out of a simple shared meal.

“Great Things Have Happened” by Alden Nowlan

We were talking about the great things
that have happened in our lifetimes;
and I said, “Oh, I suppose the moon landing
was the greatest thing that has happened
in my time.” But, of course, we were all lying.
The truth is the moon landing didn’t mean
one-tenth as much to me as one night in 1963
when we lived in a three-room flat in what once had been
the mansion of some Victorian merchant prince
(our kitchen had been a clothes closet, I’m sure),
on a street where by now nobody lived
who could afford to live anywhere else.
That night, the three of us, Claudine, Johnnie and me,
woke up at half-past four in the morning
and ate cinnamon toast together.

“Is that all?” I hear somebody ask.

Oh, but we were silly with sleepiness
and, under our windows, the street-cleaners
were working their machines and conversing in Italian, and
everything was strange without being threatening,
even the tea-kettle whistled differently
than in the daytime: it was like the feeling
you get sometimes in a country you’ve never visited
before, when the bread doesn’t taste quite the same,
the butter is a small adventure, and they put
paprika on the table instead of pepper,
except that there was nobody in this country
except the three of us, half-tipsy with the wonder
of being alive, and wholly enveloped in love.

from What Happened When He Went to the Store for Bread. © Nineties Press, 1993.


6 comments on “The Poetry of Cinnamon Toast

  1. Noah
    December 9, 2012

    I hope your poetry folder goes forward and multiplies its descendants.

  2. Mary F
    December 9, 2012

    I love your blog and if i weren’t so darn lazy i’d get busy in the kitchen…..the fruitcake first!!! yum! I had just read this poem recently…it was on the blog Writer’s Almanac….great to see it twice….simple things are best! always! your fan! mary f

    • Catherine
      December 9, 2012

      Glad you like the blog! And thanks for reading it. And, wow. It’s awesome to have a fan.

  3. Sarah
    December 9, 2012

    Cinnamon toast is my “go-to” comfort food, probably because my Mother always made it when we were ill. With your poem I want to try sharing it with others…

    • Catherine
      December 9, 2012

      What a nice memory. Count me in when you’re in the mood to make some and share.

  4. Mom
    December 11, 2012


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This entry was posted on December 9, 2012 by in Poetry and tagged , , .

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