Table of Contents
A Wedding Toast For Daddy's
_ By Miriam N. Kotzin
_ By Debbi Pless
_ By Rachel Miller
Hearts Without Armor
Angela P. Markham
Mental Constipation and Brain Vomit
My Best Subject
Requiem For An Author
Sometimes It Pours Only Dogs
The Black Tape
A Slave To Time
Death By My Lover
I Am A Pineapple
Lament For the Lost Soldier
Left Silent To Dream of Wine
Ode To Microsoft Spell Cheque
Reminiscent of Society As An Individual
The Raven and the Dove
David C. Clarke
not sure why, but my family has always considered bread to be the
most important food group. Maybe this belief comes from when my
parents were missionaries in Amsterdam, living on bread and good
Gouda cheese. Or perhaps it comes from my German grandmother, who
sends us a loaf of Stollen every year for Christmas breakfast. Or
perchance it just comes from living right next door to a town full
of good Italian bread. Whatever the case, my family is obsessed
fact, while bread isn't the sole reason I met Rita, it should be.
Rita is our next-door neighbor, a petite woman in her late
thirties from a well-eating Italian family. I actually didn’t
start going over to their house on Saturday afternoons because of
Rita; I went because of Buddy, her father. Buddy was sort of
another grandfather for me. I went over every afternoon he was
there and I helped him with gardening, or cooking, or just
errands. I wasn’t being charitable either; I loved it over
was seven when I started visiting, Buddy was still living locally
on the East Coast, Rita hadn’t met Tim, and the house was always
alive and full of people and food. Especially bread.
favorite part of Saturday afternoons was when we stopped gardening
and went to go do the errands. I’m not sure what was so special
about it. Maybe it was because someone I wasn’t related to found
me important enough to include me in the mundanities of their
life. Or maybe it was to get away from my ever-present family. I
think it was both, in a way, but it was mainly for the bread. Rita
and Buddy went to Mortillaro’s Bakery for their bread and other
miscellaneous foods. Rita’s favorite was the champagne cookies.
Pink cookies with rainbow sprinkles pressed into the sides, they
were the perfect cookies. At least Rita thought so; I never really
cared for them.
best thing was of course, the bread. We would get it, still warm
some days, pre-sided and ready to be slathered with butter and
broiled in the toaster oven for the perfect movie snack, or to be
painted with peanut butter and jelly for a tasty sandwich. Or even
eaten plain, straight from the bag in the car. No matter what, the
bread was perfect.
kept up for two years, and I settled into a Saturday routine of
doing my chores, then running over to the House to see what the
plan was this week. My parents didn’t really mind my being over
there as long as I came when called and didn’t get in trouble.
In fact, through me and my presence, our families started getting
together for supper on Saturday nights, or inviting each other
over for Sunday dinner. Still, Buddy wasn’t getting any younger,
and he was starting to stay behind more and more weekends.
Eventually phased out of my life entirely, and the weekend became
all about Rita and hanging out with her.
huge dollhouse from their house in Saugus was moved to the
Rockport house, where Rita and I spent days redecorating and
buying things for it. It was finally complete the day we bought
the tiny clay loaf of bread and placed it in the kitchen, on the
table, with a knife right next to it so the toy mice who lived in
the house could eat a piece whenever they wanted.
this time, Rita had met Tim and was seriously dating him. Buddy
was thinking about moving to California. And Mortillaro’s was
Rita found out, she was devastated. She bought seventy-two
champagne cookies as a farewell to the owners, whom she knew quite
well. They knew me pretty well too from all the times I’d
accompanied her. We spent weeks trying to find a bakery that was
nearly as good. Rita wanted to find her cookies, but I just wanted
a place with decent bread. Eventually we settled for Virgilio’s.
They didn’t have the cookies, or the right kind of bread, but
they had other pastries, amazing St. Joseph’s rolls, and great
pizza. Still, it wasn’t enough.
the years passed after that, Rita helped Buddy and her brother
Joey move out to Pasadena, California. By then he had stopped
coming entirely, and instead of the sweet old grandfather I
remembered, had become a crotchety old man who didn’t like to
bend his knees when he walked. I was actually relieved to see them
leave. Rita started to see even more of Tim. We figured that
something was bound to happen; either they’d get engaged, or
break up, or something. But nothing did. And Rita stopped coming
as often. Her career was on the fast track, and she had little
time to drive an hour from Tim’s house to sit on the couch to
eat toast and watch Indiana Jones movies with a twelve year old.
Nevertheless, when she did come, it was the same old routine.
She’d ask me about school, and I’d tell her all the gory
details of my encounters with Cassidy and the jocks, then Hannah
and the popular kids. Until I reached high school and Rita stopped
guess, she didn’t really stop, she just faded out. I started to
get used to Saturday nights by myself, and the lack of good bread.
By the time she was living in Boston, Mom had found a good bread
that was sold right at Shaw’s. Though doubtful at first, I soon
warmed up to it, and declared it my new favorite food. Rita still
came every once in a while, and often in the autumn, so we kept a
fire going in her house while she and Kerstin, my older sister,
talked, and I listened and occasionally interjected an idea. In
fact, up until Kerstin went to college, that was the schedule.
Rita was in work all spring and summer, but in the fall it was old
times, plus my sister.
Kerstin left for college, Rita switched jobs, and I restarted
school. I really didn’t see her except holidays. In fact, this
year, I saw Rita three times all winter and spring. She came this
weekend, and swears she’ll be here next week, but I doubt it.
I’m sixteen now. She’s thirty-eight, and starting to worry
about her biological clock. When she does come up, we eat bread
and talk about anything except the House, Buddy, or how little she
comes these days. The House that was once full of people and food
now has me as it’s sole occupant, and I live next door. The
refrigerator only has a lemon, some seltzer, and a bottle of
Nayonnaise in it now. The bread drawer has been empty for years.
at least one thing has stayed in the house, along with the piles
of books and the dusty dollhouse. Me and my love of bread.