Bakery Girl
By Penelope Moffet

I couldn’t see the counter for the loaves
were baked in back by sultry older men
in soiled white smocks and sly mustachios.

I worked up front. It was my job to close
the sales of sourdough, wheat and multigrain.
I couldn’t see the cashbox for the loaves

pulled steaming from hot ovens by those
bakers sauntering through a darkened room
in soiled white smocks and sly mustachios.

I yearned to be where they were. So
I wheedled my way to run the slice machine.
I left the clean glass counter for the loaves,

for the searing humid furnace, chose
to risk chopped fingers to be near the men
in soiled white smocks and sly mustachios.

His hair and beard were gold. Sometimes I froze
using one baguette to push another in.
I couldn’t see the slicer when he loafed
nearby in soiled white smock and sly mustachio

IMAGE: “Still Life with Loaves of Bread” by Ilya Mashkov (1912).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I rarely write villanelles, although I like them. This particular villanelle arose from a combination of factors: the prompt about first jobs from Silver Birch Press, and an assignment for a poetry workshop in which we’re studying and working in traditional forms.  Using the villanelle form somehow made it possible for me to find words about my first job in a bakery, at age 16 – a subject I hadn’t previously considered writing about.

moffet in santa monica, 12-2016

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Penelope Moffet’s poems have been published in The Missouri Review, Columbia, The Broome Review, Permafrost, and other literary journals, as well as in several anthologies and in online magazines, including The Rise Up Review and  She has published one book of poetry, Keeping Still, and has work upcoming in Levure Litteraire and Natural Bridge.