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The Aroma of Baking Bread: A Family Poem

April 15, 2020


NOTE: This fifteenth day of National Poetry Month and the traditional “Tax Day” coincides with my 22nd anniversary of receiving my second of four Leader Dogs. On this day in 1998, Heather, a creamy-colored Yellow Labrador Retriever, bounded into my life with great exuberance at the very young age of seventeen months. For ten school years, she worked beside me and in the lead at Milwaukee Area Technical College. After one full year of semi-retirement, Heather was happy to welcome Zoe, my third Leader Dog, into our home and lives. For an additional thirteen months, I was blessed to have two Leader Dogs–one retired and one active. I celebrate this day with warm and cherished memories of Heather and also of the bakers in my family.


Yesterday one of my writers’ groups–Behind Our Eyes–celebrated National Poetry Month with a “Virtual Poetry Luncheon.” At this very enjoyable and successful event, I presented the following poem. I was delighted to host the poetry event, which is one of four held by this national group of writers during these thirty days of April. After my poem, you will find a link to my sister’s reading a children’s story which is a rhymed alphabet book–very appropriate for National Poetry Month.


* * *


The aroma of Baking Bread


By Alice Jane-Marie Massa


I come from a long line of bakers of bread.

My older relatives frequently said,

“I cannot eat a meal without a piece of bread.”


I grew up playing in my maternal grandparents’ Bakery.

On summer days, I went daily to my cousins’ Comba Bakery:

a-a-ah–Breadsticks, sweet torchetti, and

Of course, the long loaves of Italian bread

Fragranced the car ride home

And became our afternoon treats.

“Good bread needs no butter.”


At our table, the two most often heard words were:

“Mangia, mangia!” (“Eat, eat!”)

Talking with a piece of bread

In gesturing hand was common–

A salute to our bread of life

And a compliment to the baker.


In later years, after the bakeries of my grandfather and cousins

had permanently closed their brick ovens,

I kneaded bread. I made the bread–

Challah bread that I loved to braid

And even photograph before eating.


Now, the scent of baking bread

Brings forth, to me, the aroma of home.

I give to each of you a taste of precious bread memories;

And I request,

“Pass this cherished loaf of bread, if you please.”


* * *


BOOKNOTE: To hear the reading of the children’s book G IS FOR GOAT (written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco, copyright 2003), please click on the link below. Mary Fanyo, a longtime prekindergarten teacher, posted the reading of this delightful book for her five-year-old students this week. Please share the following link with those who you know will enjoy listening to this playful alphabet book. (Once again, Mary’s husband, Ric, was the videographer.)



Enjoy the last half of National Poetry Month!

Poetically yours,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


April 15, 2020, Wednesday



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  1. Susan M McKendry permalink

    Alice–Once again your post has made me hungry. Maybe I have a smidge of Italian ancestry, since I totally agree with your relatives who couldn’t think of a meal without bread. Also nice to read about Heather. I never realized she was so young when you got her. And thanks to Mary for her contributions!–Sue

    • Hi, Sue–I enjoyed reading your comment.  Most people have commented that this poem made them hungry.  Well, I think it made me hungry when I wrote it!

          So much construction here that I have not been able to go to Metro Market this week, but will be able to walk there again with Willow to do grocery shopping on Tuesday.

      Enjoy the warmer weather this weekend–Alice and Willow

  2. Well, I will join the “hungry crowd’ by sharing that I have never tasted any Italian bread as delicious as that made by our relatives, and I doubt I ever will. The crispy crust on the outside and soft light dough on the inside perfectly complemented the rich Italian food. Perhaps we need an Italian ABC Book titled “P is for Pane.”
    Bon Appetito!

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