Poetry Porch: Poetry


The Baker’s Apprentice
by Diana Der-Hovanessian

Sunday. The only day
I did not rise before the sun
to light my ovens.

But I was wakened by
the sound of feet moving
over the streets.

It was the day of the exodus
in our small city Mazera.
I was told to stay

because I was a baker,
spared the march,
told to wait until

“The others come back 
when the state
was stabilized.”

Families with supplies
for a day’s walk shuffled
along. I wanted to go too

or five them something. Bread.
The smell of baking bread,
my daily gift. My gift

that spared me while Bedros
who made shoes was taken
although he had not been

conscripted into the army earlier.
This time his clever apprentice,
his twelve-year-old son was kept.

Next door, the priest
at the boys’ school and his
charges formed a double line.

All except one who had come
the night before to
my back door for bread.

He intended to travel by dark
to his village to check
on his family. I cut a cross

into his loaf, the last
I served that way. Two years
later a Turkish apprentice

was brought into my store
by two black mustached gendarmes
who introduced him.

I had already guessed
his name.

Copyright © 1990 by Diana Der-Hovanessian.
Reprinted from Songs of Bread, Songs of Salt by Diana Der-Hovanessian. New York: Ashod Press, 1990.