My mother is a baker, a young, bubbly baker,
Her and her twin sister
skip down the paved roads.
all the way to the grocery store
only a couple quarters in her pocket.
In a simple exchange, she places them on the counter
and returns home with a box of Bisquick.
Her eyes scan each recipe on the back of the box.
The secrets of dumplings, strawberry shortcake, coffee cake,
scribbled on the flimsy cardboard.
That was when she fell in love with baking.
She copies each instruction.
and falls in love with the way the eggs, sugar, and flour
mixes together into a delicious batter
That she would lick from a spoon.
Waiting for the familiar ding of the oven.
A smile on her face.
My mother is a baker, filled with dreams and ambition.
She trades her college degree for a culinary one.
Her hands are always covered in flour.
Her arms ache from kneading dough.
Her feet hurt from standing hours on end.
And she loves it.
Her passion grows each day.
Burning fiercely in her chest.
A comfort in knowing her life’s purpose.
My mother is a baker, climbing up the ladder.
She works at the Buckhead Diner.
The head pastry chef in a kitchen filled with men.
At first she loves the organized chaos.
She loves the constant sound
Of mixers whirring
And ovens dinging.
But then she met Paulie.
My mother is a baker, filled with dread.
The cream puffs lay on a huge sheet pan as
Harassing hands touched her from behind.
Calloused fingers with a ring around
No one says a word.
My mother is a baker, who is afraid of entering her own freezer.
Terrified to be cornered by him once again.
dark eyes, a wicked smirk.
He coaxes her with the high pleading voice he thinks she loves.
She listens intently for the footsteps to
Recede from the kitchen, before rushing to the door.
A blast of freezing air hits her face
She clutches the list of ingredients in her hands as
she piles everything into her arms,
A cold sweat forms on her brow
before she runs back to her work station
And the footsteps return.
My mother is a baker, who is disregarded.
Who glances out of the kitchen door frame
At all of the men she works alongside
Lined up proudly for the cameras.
Dressed in their cleanest coats and tall hats
That were ironed days before.
They wait to appear on television
With the famous Emeril Lagasse.
Minutes before the director ushers them to their places
my mother’s superior, Thomas,
Intimidates her to stay in the kitchen.
Says that she doesn’t belong in the line.
she stood, watching them
From afar. Still.
In her own ironed coat.
The famous chef sits at the table,
Staged plates of food decorate the table
But he only chooses only one
He takes a bite and declares it delicious.
That dish was the banana cream pie
My mother made the night before.
My mother is a baker, who isn’t appreciated.
No matter how pretty she decorate the tarts
No matter how perfectly she bakes the pies
Even though she works tirelessly.
One day off a week.
Arms are covered in burns
She is never truly valued.
The respect and money given to her
Are half of what’s given to the men
My mother is a baker, who no one cares about.
Once she gathers all the courage she could muster
She steps into her boss’ office.
With eyes casted down
she recounts everything Paulie had said to her
Everything he had done to her.
Her boss looks her in the eyes,
“He is more important than you,” he says.
“Deal with it.” he says.
My mom needed that job.
To fight to keep her daughter as a single mother.
To fight for her dream.
And so she stayed.
My mother is a baker, who’s love for her craft is fading.
Ever since she entered that kitchen.
She no longer feels the pride in
The way her arms ache from kneading
She no longer feels the childhood joy
She felt back when her and her sister
Crowded over the easy bake oven,
Watching the batter rise under the heat
Of a single lightbulb.
A battle of harsh words with her boss
Ends with her being called, “useless, crazy, expendable.”
And so my mom leaves.
A clean workstation left behind
My mother was a baker, a fantastic baker.
And in many ways she still is.
She still creates our birthday cakes every year,
and when the piping
Bag is in her hand once more filled with
Bright colorful frosting, a small
Sense of excitement returns to her.
I asked my mom when writing this,
“How did you heal from all of this?”
She sighed deeply, taking a moment to search
Through her mind for an answer.
She looked at me and said,
“I don’t think I ever will.”
My mother was a baker, but she is so much more.
She is strong. She is creative.
She is appreciated. She is loved.
She is healing.