Joseph Bathanti

A Pittsburgh Bakery in Winter
December 18, 2017 Bathanti Joseph

A Pittsburgh Bakery in Winter



Into Prantl’s, on Walnut Street,
through the sudden scrim of snow,

an ancient white-haired couple hunches.
Dusk of Pittsburgh frigid winter,

enough to freeze the rivers,
after hours of rare exquisite sun,

now vanished for another score of days,
yet still firing in the icicles

depended from the bakery awning –
the hour the very old appear to fetch sweets

swathed in silver tissue laid
in white boxes latched with string.

The woman holds the man’s arm.
He wears a gold cap,

she a gold scarf, like a babushka,
about her head – their kind faces

scrubbed clean by the 20th Century.
So small, they smile, so aged,

almost frightening, they pluck numbers
and enter the long queue.

The bakery is warm, blinding,
glass cases of cream puffs, éclairs,

lady locks, Napoleons,
French doughnuts, meringue –

the glory of unbridled desire,
confections of the living.

Joseph Bathanti, former Poet Laureate of North Carolina (2012-14) and recipient of the North Carolina Award in Literature, is author of nineteen books. Bathanti is the McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor of Interdisciplinary Education at Appalachian State University. A new volume of poems, Light at the Seam, was published by LSU Press in 2023.