Kneaded Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

Sustenance Anvil Press 2017(Sustenance: Writers from British Columbia and Beyond on the Subject of Food December, 2017)

You don’t wet the bread board. You flour it, generously, as the Tassajara Bread Book says. Next, you splat-set the antsy dough onto the wood where it fate-flattens with a shrug. Already, you’re speaking up for the lump—to wit, its voice, yours for the taking, such generosity, indeed.

You knead the pile. The pile needs you, so much so that your push meets its fetal mass, serpent-bodied. Its bouldered build yeasts a gathering force, an orneriness that matches your provocation, hail batch, well met.You put your hands’ heels into it and the mass rolls its shoulders and spine back and the water leeches out, and with it the gluten, which sticks to your fingers, gums them up, and gloms onto your intent, hosts this transference, what the psyche of food plots in you, its host-maker.

Eventually, the kneading honeys your hands into stumps, say, palettes or paddles, losing their handedness, and again you plunge one then the other into the Pillsbury bag, releasing the brown-nut-smell, the slightly noxious odor of earthy resolve, flour powering an eternal rotation, a turn for which Nietzsche also had his say, to wit, “When his work opens its mouth, the author has to shut his.”

You rub your hands together, warming before a morning fire, and the little curled dough-drops fall like flecks of skin, wormish squibs that re-enter the lot, attach, immerse, melt, and bulk the brainy float, albeit passing, like you, having too brief a parade in which to ever or never know yourself.

Still, you pound the bubbled bulge, the yeast now friction-hot, fermenting, bloated, gaining on you (this’ll be over soon), the splay across the board again, an island bulking up and out of the sea, its outer banks folding onto themselves, coves beach, pores tent, cells swell—on and on until the bread is enriched, more single-purposed than when you began, an egoist of the sort you hadn’t expected, a psychotherapeutic crossing you wagered would be what was will be what is, to play our minds on and be played, hand to loaf, scent to taste, shaper, shaped.

On your life or not, the dough has had enough: the wheat germ blocked, the oil r-u-n-n-o-f-f, water/flour/salt all rebuffed, the slab rectangled one, two, three in Teflon pans, a last billow, alas, and the oven-bake stays the air within, the hot buns shake down and bound off the board, monument, stone, idle, the loaves cool, a knife bids butter, the toast calls jam, each primal slice betters your rhetorical cast, your metamorphosis lost in the oblivion of language. . .

Whatever you write you’ve already eaten.