“Pan de Sal” by Chelsea Samson

2021 Pushcart Prize Nominee

2021 Best of the Net Nominee

When I was a little girl,
My mother told me that pain was a woman’s gift.
I remembered then, she was baking bread.

Her hands fell soft, melodic
and as the flour wove through her fingers
She would hum little sounds that painted my world.

I could never figure her recipe,
but she said that I would know when I was older.
And I have tried and tried since then.

I would never forget the taste of it,
a brown smell and a salty comfort in my mouth
that lingered as I ran outside to play.

Years passed and the days have grown long in me
and many times, I have made her bread,
if only to feel that brown comfort again.

But life always colored mine with its flavors,
at times too light, and thrice too sweet to taste.
Heavy hands made it bitter, and biting to the tongue.

I felt like I would never know her secret,
But the need to feel that comfort, and curiosity,
would not leave my soul.

And so once more I made my mother’s bread,
But the salt of my tears and pain, of age
added to water, sugar, flour, yeast and eggs.

There it was – it finally tasted like my mother’s.

Dr. Chelsea Elizabeth Samson works in the field of health management and technology in the Philippines and advocates for human connections in the healthcare system. Alongside her primary functions, she pursues civic advocacies as a brand ambassador of Kandama indigenous weaves and as a Global Shaper under the World Economic Forum. She has been writing poetry since the age of 12 and has continued a love affair with arts through her painting and poetry. 

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