By Anya Silver
Pain perdu: lost bread. Thick slices sunk in milk,
fringed with crisp lace of browned egg and scattered sugar.
Like spongiest challah, dipped in foaming cream
and frothy egg, richness drenching every yeasted
crevice and bubble, that’s how sodden with luck
I felt when we fell in love. Now, at forty,
I remember that “lost bread” means bread that’s gone
stale, leftover heels and crusts, too dry for simple
jam and butter. Still, week-old bread makes the best
French toast, soaks up milk as greedily as I turn
toward you under goose down after ten years
of marriage, craving, still, that sweet white immersion.
Anya Silver’s book of poetry, The Ninety-Third Name of God, was published by LSU press. She teaches at Mercer University and lives in Macon, Georgia with her husband and son.
Editor’s Note: I am not usually one for love poems. This week the love of my life proposed, and—in my nerdy, poetry-loving way—I scoured the internet for a love poem worthy of commemorating the event. My search dragged me through the stick of syrupy pieces, insulted me with poems of the butterflies-and-rainbows variety, and meandered through poems of antiquity that incited sleep instead of expressing in a visceral way this moment of elated love. And then I read “French Toast.”
I find myself unequipped to elaborate on why today’s poem is an example of expert craftsmanship. Unequipped because Anya Silver is a master of words, and my own seem slack in comparison.
As I read today’s poem aloud, I savor the feel of the words in my mouth. Words that mimic the sweetness of the dish they describe. A dish that is not a food, but a metaphor. A metaphor that is so successful, so unexpected, that it nearly redefines the idea of metaphor itself. At the very least, it becomes the standard against which metaphor should be held, and it sets the bar incredibly high.
All that, and it is a love poem! And not a poem inspired by the fleeting passion of new love, but a poem that speaks to what it is to make a life with someone. To love and desire someone as sincerely ten years into a committed relationship as you did when you first felt “sodden with luck” for falling in love.
This is a poem of optimism. A poem that inspires me to love my man fiercely for the rest of my life. This is the poem to express my heart’s desires for our impending union. I thank Anya Silver for this gift, and I dedicate today’s poem to Matt Teitelman, my soon-to-be husband and the love of my life. May our love be like french toast forever.
Want to see more by and about Anya Silver?
Buy The Ninety-Third Name of God on Amazon
Listen to “French Toast on The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor (Listen at 3:05)
Anya Silver Featured as Image Journal’s Artist of the Month: October 2010