The best part about spending the night with my best friend was the food. Her mother bought organic and local before those words entered the public conversation. Dinner was always made fresh and was always very filling. At my house, we started with small helpings and then (maybe) went back for seconds. We always ate dessert. At my best friend’s house, plates were filled to the rim, and everyone got seconds. No dessert. But that didn’t matter because my best friend’s mom served homemade whole wheat bread. She even ground her own wheat berries to make the flour. I’d skip the meat and fill up on her bread.
L.L. Barkat mentioned that she grinds her own wheat berries, too. I always wanted to be the kind of woman who did that sort of thing. I’m not. But, oh, there is nothing better than a loaf of warm wheat bread, fresh from the oven, like my aunt in Wyoming used to make. She didn’t grind her own wheat berries. She ran an advertising agency.
I’ve been thinking about wheat berries and writing after my counselor asked me, “How do you think your writing might change?” I didn’t like the question, but I can’t shake it. My counselor asked because our family is in the midst of a tragedy. We’re past the crisis. Now we’re on to a good old-fashioned epic Greek tragedy which ends with everyone in a massive display of PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome).
Classic Greek tragedy is the origin of acting, of people portraying other people in disguise. Like in the book of Sirach: “I will walk with them in disguise.”
How do you disguise a wheat berry? Grind it up. Pulverize it. Bake it into bread.
In November, Ann Kroeker asked me what kind of writing gives me the most life. I said poetry because in a poem, I can be completely honest while keeping things in disguise.
For example, Robert Burns wrote, “My love is like a red, red rose.” Simile. Fine. At some sunnier points in my life, I might have written, “My love is a red, red rose.” Metaphor. Also fine. Now, I just write about red, red roses. If you happen to see love in that, well, that’s lovely. If not, tell me about roses — red, white, pink, the yellow rose of Texas. More than fine.
Maybe this is the place where fiction takes over. But not memoir-disguised-as-fiction. If I’m gonna write fiction, I’m gonna go all the way. Let’s talk about wheat berries, how after you grind them to smithereens, you can make the most amazing whole wheat bread.
I’ve got loads of wheat berries to work with. The comments on L.L. Barkat’s post showed me that some people don’t even know what a wheat berry is. So, there’s room for this wheat berry disguised as a loaf of bread to rise. Only those who grind their own will know where it came from.
Sign up now for one of our three new Creative Writing workshops this summer, starting June 17.
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