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Baking with My Daughter
by
Joseph Robert Mills


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I want to do it, she says at each step

of the recipe, and I try to let her

even if it means broken eggs on the counter,

too much salt, and too little flour.

 

She splays the dough onto the cookie sheet,

using the wooden spoon as if it’s a combination

snow shovel and mallet.  When she turns away,

I try to perform a kind of cookie triage,

finding those blobs with a chance at survival

and nudging them into a vague roundness.

 

After they’re finished, she holds one aloft

like a medal and tells her mother,

I did these all by myself, right Daddy?

I nod, saying nothing, and, for the first time,

wonder how many of my own victories

were smoothed into shape behind my back.

 

From Love and Other Collisions (Press 53, 2010).
Used with the author's permission.

Purchase a framed print of this poem.

Joe Mills is a faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he holds the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities. He is also Poet-in-Residence at Salem College. Joe’s published work includes four volumes of poetry, fiction, drama, criticism and, with his wife, Danielle Tarmey, he cowrote A Guide to North Carolina’s Wineries. Says Joe, "Although I believe my written work is getting better as I age, I still can’t master bar chords on the guitar." Enjoy his blog, "Icing and Ink," and learn more about him at www.josephrobertmills.com.

 

 


Post New Comment:
69Dorcas:
Another pear of wisdom to add from the insights of poets.
Posted 06/26/2012 05:22 PM
Sharon Urdahl:
Wonderful poem...sweet father and daughter memories made in cookie dough...
Posted 06/16/2012 01:09 PM
bambooshoot:
Wonderful image - brought back memories.
Posted 06/12/2012 04:20 PM
judithc:
Ah yes!..victories smoothed..delicious poem.
Posted 06/12/2012 11:51 AM
LindaCrosfield:
First throat-catch of the day. (Some days, there are none.) Good poem!
Posted 06/12/2012 11:00 AM
Kathryn:
This made me laugh then tear up. Such descriptive language capturing a moment any parent understands. Thank you.
Posted 06/12/2012 09:44 AM
Wilda Morris:
Been there, done that - which my children and grandchildren. You describe it in such wonderful language. I love how you described her using the wooden spoon "as if it’s a combination / snow shovel and mallet," and laughed out loud at "cookie triage."
Posted 06/12/2012 08:48 AM
Buckner14:
Don't worry about the bar chords! Keep writing splendid poems such as this one. I was still marveling (and laughing) at "cookie triage," when I reached that powerhouse ending. Bravo!
Posted 06/12/2012 08:28 AM
dotief@comcast.net:
Wonderful poem! I feel as if I were in the scene, and I really appreciate that. I allows me to go back to my children's time in the kitchen with me, and then all the way back to when I was the child in the kitchen. The message is so true and so clear! As I said, wonderful!
Posted 06/12/2012 06:58 AM
LisaV:
I love the moment of parental self-awareness at the end. Lovely poem.
Posted 06/12/2012 06:05 AM


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