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By Cornelius Eady

I walk into the bakery next door   
To my apartment. They are about   
To pull some sort of toast with cheese   
From the oven.   When I ask:   
What’s that smell? I am being   
A poet, I am asking   


What everyone else in the shop   
Wanted to ask, but somehow couldn’t;   
I am speaking on behalf of two other   
Customers who wanted to buy the   
Name of it.   I ask the woman   
Behind the counter for a percentage   
Of her sale. Am I flirting?   
Am I happy because the days   
Are longer?   Here’s what   


She does: She takes her time   
Choosing the slices.   “I am picking   
Out the good ones,” she tells me.   It’s   
April 14th. Spring, with five to ten   
Degrees to go.   Some days, I feel my duty;   
Some days, I love my work.


Poem copyright © 1997 by Cornelius Eady, from Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems (Putnam, 2008). Reprinted by permission of Cornelius Eady.

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Poet Bio

Cornelius Eady
Poet and cofounder of Cave Canem, Cornelius Eady has published more than half a dozen volumes of poetry. Music is a central theme of Eady’s work, along with family and the challenges unique to the African American experience. Eady’s ability to examine several stories at once—while paring the lyrical intersections of these lives to moments remarkable in their clarity, exuberance, and vulnerability—has garnered critical acclaim. In 1996 Eady and poet Toi Derricote founded Cave Canem, a nonprofit organization that supports emerging African American poets through a summer retreat, regional workshops, a first-book prize, annual anthologies, and events and readings across the country. See More By This Poet

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