Bread by Robert Okaji (with audio in Cantonese)


That year we learned the true language of fear. 那年我們認識了恐懼的真意

I baked boule and you haunted medical sites. 我烘麵飽時你搜索醫學網址。

You said to arrive I must first depart 你說:我要先離去才能到步

or be willing to suffer self-awareness. Let’s not 否則寧願受自覺的折磨 。先別

mention our pact just yet. My basic boule requires a 提及我們的協定。我的麵包需要

Dutch oven, 20 ounces of flour, water, yeast and salt. 有蓋的烤盤,二十安麵粉,水,酵母,鹽。

At twenty I learned the finer points 二十歲那年我熟知

of sausage-making, how to butcher chicken, and 香腸作法,宰雞技巧,還有

that your hair smelled like dawn’s last flower.  你髮上的香氣是黎明的晚華。

Back then we owned the night. Now I harvest 那時我們是夜裏的主宰。現在我採集

wild yeast and sharpen pencils, make to-do lists, 野生的酵母,削鉛筆,寫下要做的事

pour Chianti, run numbers. I agreed 斟意大利酒,打算盤。 我答應了

to your proposal. It would be a kindness, you said. 你的要求。你說那算是個善舉。

The pancreas produces hormones 胰腺培育激素

and aids digestion. I chopped off my left thumb’s 幫助消化。我切去我左手的

πtip and a year later the abscission point 拇指尖,直至一年後的傷處

still felt numb. After rolling the dough 還覺麻木。 麵團揉成

into a ball, let it proof for an hour in an oiled bowl. 球狀,放在上了油的盤中發酵一小時。

We shared a taste for sharp cheese 我們都愛吃陳年奶酪

but never agreed on pillows. You loved  但有不同枕頭的偏愛。 你愛

down comforters and found vultures fascinating. 羽絨被, 迷兀鷲。

Years together honed our lives 多年來我們相互依存

but we never considered what that meant. Score 從沒研究所以。 切紋,

the dough, bake it for 30 minutes with the lid on, 麵團上蓋後烘三十分鍾,

remove the lid and bake for another 15. 開蓋再烘十五。

Kneading resembles breathing: in,  揉麵團像呼吸:進

out. Rise, fall. Bright lights made your eyes water,  退,起,落。 烈光令你淚眼汪汪

so I kept them dimmed. You swallowed 因而我已使它變暗。你咽著

and said “Tell me how to knead bread.” 說:“跟我解釋麵團的揉法”。

With the heel of your right hand, push down 用你的手掌跟,按下

and forward, applying steady pressure. 推前,逐步加力壓下

The dough should move under your hand. 麵團會在你手下移動

Within minutes it will transform. 幾分鐘內便會變化。

Poem by Robert Okaji /Translated by Mary Tang

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11 Responses to Bread by Robert Okaji (with audio in Cantonese)

  1. Pingback: Translations with Recordings in Cantonese | O at the Edges

  2. There was an old TV show called the Galloping Gourmet when I was a kid, and the chef would always joke when he was cutting tomatoes how you had to be careful when cutting tomatoes because if you weren’t careful you could cut your finger…all the while he was saying this he’d be looking at the camera and not looking at the tomato or the knife as it went up and down like a possessed machine cutting these exquisitely thin slices. Maybe the moral of the story is “If you have your own TV show you can do what you want with your knives.” But I’m just guessing here.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great poem. I did the same thing to my left thumb years ago

    Liked by 2 people

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