Bread of Life

Did You, I wonder, watch Your mother,
As these girls are watching me?
Did You see her select from the shelf
each hand-picked ingredient,
chosen to bring flavour, texture, nutrition?
Did You watch her measure with precision
the right amount and combination,
then pour in the water measured only
by a long-experienced eye
and, with supple fingers,
gather the mix together,
binding with that particular flick of the wrist?
Did You gaze with undiminished fascination,
as so often before, when she began to knead
with those familiar knuckles
that so many times had rapped on the door
when she returned from the market,
having left You securely shut inside
with instructions to open to no one
until You heard her signature knock?
Did you watch as she lifted the kneaded lump
Onto the stone slab, shaped and patted it
before sliding it into the nook above the fire?
As You studied her hands,
Did You glance down at your own
young, smooth palms and shudder
at a fleeting foreboding, as if something
might someday smash through their perfection?
Did You sit and gaze as the dough
rose, settled into its final shape and crisped over,
all the while the aroma tantalising Your nostrils?
Did you watch as, with cloth-gloved hand,
she lifted down the finished loaf,
placed it carefully to cool in the centre of the table?
Did You learn from her the right way
to break and distribute the loaf,
as You hungrily accepted Your share
and allowed its savour to permeate
your body and mind?
And did You someday, many years later,
remembering this day,
reflect on how Your Father had selected
everything the world needed to flavour,
nourish and sustain it,
blended in Your human form,
kneaded together in her womb,
and gently eased into the fire of tribulation
that awaited You here?
Was that the moment when first You knew it –
I am the Bread of Life?

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