Toasting Buns

C. L. Bledsoe


Everything my sister and I know about cooking
we learned from toasting our buns
on the old butane heater
in the living room of our father’s house. 

In winter, when the hard wood floors
sent sharp thrills through the soles of our feet,
numbing us with the shock of being burned by cold,
until we learned to throw an old shirt,
blanket, anything on the floor first,
and slide it to the bathroom.  

If we woke early, we could rise slowly,
like dough under our blankets,
until we heard the dull cursing of our father
as he stepped into the winter air after showering,
then it was a race to get in first. 

The damp tile welcomed us into a cloud of steam
and a promise of warm water where we could boil off the cold.
Then a dash to the closet for clothes,
and a sprint to the heater to dress. 

There’s a trick to toasting your buns—
you have to keep your mind on them, or they’ll burn.
My sister was like a microwave, cooking her front the whole time
while her back sat in a cold spot. 

I was rotisserie, baking for a few seconds then turning,
then back, as soon as one side browned I flipped it
for an even tan. Too soon, it would be time to go,
then we’d hop right on top and sit 

until we’d scorched our bottoms so badly
there was nothing for it but to take them off the heat.
With a little yelp we’d hop off and run outside
with enough courage burned into us
to last us to the bus stop.



(photo by Casey Pearson)