As Bread Loves Salt, A Fairy Tale From Greece

written by Laura Beasley

There was once a king, more clever than kind, who had three daughters.

This king was constantly asking pointless, unnecessary, and unreasonable questions.   One day, while sitting on his throne and staring at the princesses, he began to wonder how they felt about him, to question their affection. The king blurted out, “Tell me; how much do you love me?”

The three young women looked away.  They knew their father insisted that his every whim be satisfied.  His oldest daughter gazed at her emerald and ruby ring avoiding his demanding eyes.  Her father tapped her shoulder, repeating his inquiry, “Tell me, how much do you love me?”

The eldest princess twirled her ring, twisted her gold bracelet and fingered the heavy gold pendant on her chest.  As she turned to meet his gaze, her long gold earrings tapped  her slender neck.  She answered in a rush, “Oh Father, I love you more than gold and jewels and silver and gems.”

“Good,” said the king.

His second child had pulled her chair up next to the window.  She ignored her father, absorbed in the action in the courtyard below.  The young knights and squires sparred with each other on horseback and on foot.  Armed with swords or lances, they were engaged in mock fighting. She could not decide who was the most handsome. Her father’s demand interrupted her reverie, “Tell me daughter, how much do you love me?”

“Oh, Father, I love you more than all my boyfriends and sweethearts and beaux.”

“Good,” said the king.

The king neared his youngest daughter, his dearest and sweetest child.  She pushed thread in and out and through cloth secured by her embroidery hoop.  Looking  down at her work, she hoped the question would not be repeated.  Her father knelt down at her side and gazed up into her face. With her, his demand became a plea, “Tell me, how much do you love me?”

“This is not the sort of question that a daughter should answer to her father.”

“Nevertheless, I demand an answer. How much do you love me?”

“I love you, Father, as bread loves salt.”

“As bread loves…” he sputtered. “ That doesn’t… Bread’s not salty!  That doesn’t even make sense!”  Grabbing the youngest princess by the elbow, he yanked her to her feet.  The embroidery hoop, needle and thimble tumbled to the floor as he pulled her from the throne room and down the steps into the courtyard.  The king dragged the princess through the castle gates and onto the public roadway.  The dusty road swarmed with people traveling this way and that. These were people usually unseen by princesses in castles: common folk walking with ox-carts, pushing hand-carts, and carrying bundles. The king scanned the crowd.  Which of the many desperate, filthy people should he choose?  The king gestured to the dirtiest man he could find.  As the poor man knelt, the king insisted, “You will marry my daughter, the princess.”

The poor man answered, “Your majesty, great are the stories of your greatness and renowned are the tales of all that you have done.  Why have you chosen me to marry your daughter?”

“I need explain nothing; you will marry her now.”  The priest was summoned to perform the ceremony on the public road.  The princess went off to live with the poor man and his widowed mother in a one-room hut outside the city.  Being a true princess, she made the best of her meager circumstances.  She worked hard, scrubbing, cleaning, preparing meals, and lovingly caring for her husband and mother-in-law.  Her husband suffered because, married to a princess, he couldn’t begin to provide the sorts of things that he thought she wanted.

For the next few months, the poor man found some work as a porter carrying packages in the marketplace.  One day, after meeting with a group of men, he returned home with something important to tell his family.  The princess was anxious to share some news of her own as well.  Being a respectful wife, she let her husband speak first.  He told them, “I’ve decided to go on a long journey.  There is a group of merchants who will be traveling in a caravan.  They need a servant, so I will accompany them. In time,  I may be able to make some money.  If I am ever able to send home money or food, I will.  I cannot make enough money in this busy city to be able to support you.  I have no idea when I will return.”

The princess knew there was nothing she could say to change his mind.  She silently kissed him farewell, sad that her husband was leaving. Understanding his decision to leave, she could not share her news with him.

After walking with heavy bundles each day, his work continued every night.  The poor man set up the tents, prepared the meal and carried water from wherever he could find it.  The merchants traveled many miles for long hours, waiting until evening to make camp.  One night, when the poor man went alone to find water, green noxious smoke rose up from the well.  He blinked as his eyes watered.  Floating above the surface of the water was a horrible green water-demon.  The terrified man bowed his head sputtering, “G-g-goood evening, sir.”

“Because you have spoken kindly to me, I will not kill you the way I have killed the others who have taken my water.  Instead I will give you a gift, but I advise you to open it only when you are alone.” said the water-demon.  With that final word, the monster dissipated into a cloud of smoke.  The man squinted as the smoke sucked back deep into the water.  When he opened his eyes, he found three pomegranates on the edge of the well.  He put the fruit in his leather shoulder-bag and carried the bucket of water back to camp.  The next morning, the poor man met a stranger who was traveling in the opposite direction. After describing where his mother and wife lived, he asked the stranger to take one of the pomegranates to his family.  The stranger was an honest man who located the small home and gave the fruit to the old widow.  In gratitude, the princess fed him bread and soup.  After he had left, the old woman said, “Let’s cut open the pomegranate and share the fruit, daughter.”

As the princess struggled to slice the fruit in half, she thought that the seeds may have hardened inside.  She was amazed when dozens of exquisite diamonds spilled out.  Now they could live in comfort and happiness.  They sold the gems and they had a palace built on the same spot as their poor cottage.  They built a magnificent fountain with clear water providing an oasis for lonely travelers to drink and bathe.  Many poor and desperate strangers appreciated the comfort received at the fountain.

After more than a decade, the poor man was ready to come home.  Carrying his modest earnings, he was astonished when he returned to the city of his birth and found a palace on the very spot where he had lived with his family.  Perplexed and confused, he looked through the window and recognized an elegant woman. “It is my wife!  She’s years older, but still so beautiful,” the astonished man blurted out.

As he continued to spy, the husband realized his wife was not alone.  She was joined by a young man.  She reached out, touching him on the shoulder and then embracing the youth.  In fury, the poor man gripped the knife in his pocket, ready to burst through the door and punish this betrayal.  He paused long enough to remember the many years he had been gone.   Although he had tried to send money and food, he had no idea if they had received any of it.  Maybe his wife thought herself a widow.  Maybe she’d married this rich young man to survive.  They should be left to their happiness.  He turned to walk away.

However, before leaving, the poor man changed his mind again.  Without knowing why, he followed a sudden impulse to push the door open.  His wife shouted in joy, “Husband, you’re home!  Look son, it’s your father!  Mother, come quickly!”

Before he knew it, the poor man was being hugged by his wife, his son, and his mother who had survived these many years.  They were delighted to be reunited as a family.  Confused, he asked them, “I don’t understand; why are you living in a palace?”

His wife explained, “But, you sent us that pomegranate full of diamonds!”

“Pomegranate?”  He began to remember what had happened so many years before.  Being a hardworking servant who never had a moment to himself, he had not sliced them open.  Having assumed the fruit had spoiled and dried up long ago, he had forgotten about them.  With his family watching, he opened his leather pouch and found the other two pieces of fruit.   When he cut them open, he saw that these pomegranates were full of diamonds as well.  Since the family already had a beautiful home, they used their new wealth to provide for the poor, desperate, and needy.  People came from far around to seek aid and support.

News of this generous and charitable family spread far and wide, even to the royal castle.  The curious king made it his business to meet wealthy strangers.  He sent word that he would visit them the next week.  The princess made plans to provide a feast to honor the king.  She instructed her cook, “There will be several courses, naturally.  All of the sorts of food you prepare will be wonderful.  But I have some specific instructions regarding the first course.  The first course should include bread and meats.  These need to be prepared with absolutely no salt.”

“But, mistress, this is not a good idea.  The meat will taste so bland.  But, the bread!  The bread will be even worse.  Bread without salt will crumble and collapse.  It will look horrible and taste strange,” said her cook.

“Nevertheless, this is what I want,” said the princess.  The feast was prepared, and the first course was served.  The king sat with his vizier at the head table.  The princess, wearing a veil, attended to her guests.  She inquired of her guest of honor, “How do you like the food, your Majesty?”

“It’s quite unusual,” replied the king.  “I don’t think I have ever had food exactly like this before.”

The hostess reached into her pocket and took out a little sack full of salt.  “That’s because everything in this first course, even the bread, was made without salt.  You do not notice the taste of salt in most bread, but even a little bit…”  She pinched some of the salt between her fingers and let it fall through the air.  “Even a teaspoon of salt in a loaf of bread will change it so much.  The salt helps stop the yeast from overgrowing so that the bread will rise but not spill all over the oven. The loaf becomes strong, sturdy, and shapely.  Without any salt at all, the bread will be crumbly and taste sour.  Every good cook knows that bread loves…”

The king interrupted, “Wait!  That bread loves salt.  When someone told me that years ago, I didn’t know what she meant.  She was my youngest daughter, the daughter that I lost because of my stubborn foolishness.”

The hostess lifted her veil, “Father, I am not lost.”

Daughter and father embraced because she still loved her father as bread loves salt.

Writing

A poem written by Barb Force

Last Sunday Writers are writing poetry!
I procrastinate.
Perfectionism– procrastination–paralysis

Yes, that is me.

I jot down thoughts.
They are all jumbled.
Thoughts race at the dog park.
Words careen as I drive.
Ideas soar and dance at the symphony.
Thoughts move to the rhythm at water aerobics.
Subjects change lanes on the freeway.
Words swirl around in my dreams,
But when I wake, they are gone.
And the paper: empty.

I set aside time.

The insistent telephone interrupts.
The lawyer-we need to talk.
The tenant-the refrigerator isn’t working.
The broker-about the re-fi.
The nurse-Mom hurt her hand.
My cousin- Aunt Terri went on hospice.
Constant drip drip – need new water heater.

Am I supposed to write?

National Poetry Month 2011 – In culmination of a month well read!

In culmination of a month well versed in poetry, our two poets today are Laura L Mays Hoopes and Laura Beasley

Driving Down the Mountains at Sunset

written by Laura L Mays Hoopes

And so the edge of night approaches
Lines the south side of peaks with golden glow
Draws a red line where the sun just disappeared
Along the mountains’ thrusts and plunges.

The blue on blue of peak beyond peak
No human lights to pull the eye from deepest violet
A white stone outcrop like a ship with sails
Spread wide to winds that whip the roadside weeds.

Cars and trucks turn on their lights,
Making chains of gold and red
That spiral around the valleys
Like necklaces and bracelets.

The sky inks over and loses its glow
And now the mountains are just shoulders
Blocking a few stars, a no-color, no-light place
Where grass and sage waft perfumes to moths.

‘Til Cancer Comes for You or You Need to Finish Your Story

written by Laura Beasley

So, why did you write a poem about cancer?
First they squeezed and scanned, so they could find the lump.
Oh, I see.  I know exactly what you are going through.
First they squeezed and scanned, so they could find the lump.
Then they cut my neck, so they could biopsy.

Oh, thanks for telling me.

First they squeezed and scanned, so they could find the lump.
Then they cut my neck, so they could biopsy.
Then they poisoned me with chemotherapy!

Oh, now you’ve told me more than I need to know

Let me finish my story!
First they squeezed and scanned, so they could find the lump.
Then they cut my neck, so they could biopsy.
Then they poisoned me with chemotherapy!
Then they sapped my strength, they left me all fatigued.

Or maybe you’re just depressed!

No, No, you’ve got to let me finish my story!
Now I have to start from the beginning again!
First they squeezed and scanned, so they could find the lump.
Then they cut my neck, so they could biopsy.
Then they poisoned me with chemotherapy!
Then they sapped my strength, they left me all fatigued.
And then they squeezed and scanned
and now the cancer is all gone!  THE END.

Now I’ve heard all about you, I’ve heard all about cancer.

But wait…., you have to finish your story!
Just wait…., ‘til cancer comes for you! 2/11/01

National Poetry Month & Royal Weddings…what do they have in common?

Today our poet is Liz Eisen.

Discovery

Written by Liz Eisen

Wandering down a street
the ancient storefronts
bakery, hardware, consignment, theatre, café.

Finding the muse,
a hidden door off the main
behind which I will find respite.

The tranquility,
being in this room filled with baskets and shelves
of hanks and skeins and balls of fibers.

I watch quietly as the gray-haired woman
who learned the twisting of the yarn and needles so many years ago
brightens as the knits and purls reveal themselves to her again.

National Poetry Month: What have we learned?

To have begun each day with a poem, a brief read of words jumbled chaotically ordered in sense –what have we learned?
Our poet today is Rossana G. D’Antonio with two poems.

THE FOG

written by Rossana G. D’Antonio

I stare out our floor to ceiling windows at the beautiful lush green mountains across the canyon.  The white fog slowly blankets the dividing crevasse until the image is no more than a faint jagged outline.  I hate this weather.  It reminds me of the accident.  You see, the dense white fog never visits alone; it always brings with it a bag full of nasty tricks.

CNN’s breaking news on the TV
The crumpled jet violently stopped by the dirt embankment
Swarms of rescue workers
The shrill ringing of the phone
The horror
The sound of my heart
The white body bag

And as quickly as it reared its nasty head, the haunting white image emblazoned in my mind begins to fade as the fog slowly rolls out leaving behind the sights of my beautiful lush green mountains that bring me peace.

Until the fog rolls in again….

NEW YEAR

written by Rossana G. D’Antonio

The story continues but

The end of the chapter is near

The pages drip with tears

And are weighed down by heartache

A tale still being written

And yet, with each turn of the page

The promise of hope and healing

Slowly rises…
12/31/2008

National Poetry Month…Still April!

Our poet today is Laura Beasley (administrator’s apologies for posting the wrong poem yesterday!)

The Optimist

Written by Laura Beasley

Taking time to write song-singy sonnet,
Choosing word that can’t quite rhyme with vomit.
Because I’m fed up with the life I lead,
I’d rather stay home in a bath and read.

I choose the cheerful smiling all the time
And writing poems with happy-sounding rhymes.
When empty insides yearn to be carried
Instead of giving until I’m buried.

I’m far from home where my friends love me so,
The safe places where I know I could go.
It would be easy to be sad like some
But it’s not long before I have some fun.

Our path is bright and it’s the path I walk.
I can see light and I can walk my talk.

National Poetry Month & Easter

Our poet today is Mary Rose Betten with a poem for Easter just past –

Three Haikus for Easter

written by Mary Rose Betten

You are my sea God
White caps, waves, my anchor
Save me, i’m drowning

Universal God
My domestic heart implores
Grant me a passport

Beautiful Shepard
Teach us to bloom through the snow
Give us Easter hearts

National Poetry Month, Day 20 – things are getting wacky!!

Today’s poet is Erica W. Jamieson

Dreaded Association #5

 Written by Erica W. Jamieson

To be someone other.
To be able to speak pyramids
That might save my life
Save me.
Why are pyramids so difficult
To surgeon.
I am a late old ford truck.
I fester.
I must apologize for my eightness
Pain that has been casketed away.
To be
Sugar and healthy
Nuts.  I slunk in my shell in the game of
Bradley.
I am the pink plastic racing car.
I passed the appropriate kidney stones
I am here now.
I am a desert
I do not tell only lies
I tell libraries of worms
That I manufacture and prepare
While insisting of my grasses
That only golden clams of
Lightened fruit falls from their
Lips.  Lips. Lips.  I told a lie today.
I told a lie today because I am a late
Bloomer and the truth eludes me
I am still a child and I cannot
Find the words.  I am afraid.

National Poetry Month…it’s always about the journey!

Today’s poet is Rob Daly.

An Invitation

written by Rob Daly

A plane ride away
A re-union is planned,
For a place I embraced
Forty years ago.
 
I scan the names
From our six room school
Were these my friends?
Do they remember me?
 
I needed freedom,
Something different,
I took control of my life
In a new school with no rules.
 
In English class we studied
Rock music
In History we took photos
And printed them in a darkroom
Which was the bathroom.
 
The next year I chose
My old high school and a new job
With rules I understood
And freedom to excel.
 
Should I remember the people
From my lost and found year?
I can wear a badge and smile,
Watch for a familiar face.
 
But I won’t remember if we
Took a picture together
Or listened to music.
My friends from forty years ago
Have been in my life all this time.