Pan Dulce

My niece calls me from my brother-in-law’s phone

While I’m getting ready to wash dishes. I pick up.


She says she needs to talk to her grandfather.

I tell her that her grandfather just went to sleep,


And gave specific instructions not to wake him.

She says to wake him up, she needs to talk to him.


I say OK and hope it’s not something bad.

She speaks to her grandfather in English. My dad


Responds to her in “broken” English, but she can’t really

Understand him. He gives me back the phone, frustrated.


I ask her what’s wrong. She says her school project

Is to ask a grandparent to tell them an uplifting story.


I tell her I’ll ask him in Spanish and then call her back

And tell her the story. I tell dad, Natalia quiere saber


Un cuento del triunfo; algo de triunfar, I tell him,

About your childhood. He says he doesn’t have a story.


I tell him, like a story when I submitted to a magazine for

Four years, and on the fifth year got in. He nods his head.


OK, he says. Dad proceeds to tell me about his

Childhood, when he was seven or eight years old.


He says his father taught him how to make pan dulce

From scratch. He says he felt proud about making the bread,


And after they baked it, they sold it in the street.

I tell him that’s a perfect story and that pan dulce


Is my favorite. He nods again. Before I call my niece back,

I finish washing the dishes, then rush to my laptop,


To write this poem.


Bibliographical info

Jose Hernandez Diaz "Pan Dulce" © Jose Hernandez Diaz 2020

Source: Poetry October 2020 (

Start here: