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Baking with My Daughter
Joseph Robert Mills


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



Post New Comment:
Donna O. Wheat:
This is fantastic poem. I read this three times at once.
Posted 07/20/2014 01:27 AM
I like all of your poems. I have already purchased this poem in frame size. Thanks for sharing. Orange County Finest
Posted 07/15/2014 01:22 PM
i like all of these poems. i am a poem lover. fantasy football cheat sheets
Posted 03/27/2014 08:44 AM
I like this poem pretty much.i want to read more poems like this.
Posted 03/25/2014 01:41 AM
Joseph is a young poet. he seems to me talented. I have collected a lot of poems of him. more information about fantasy football depth charts
Posted 03/19/2014 02:40 PM
Poem can tell us a lot of things. It is a different language. Personal Loans Louisburg I usually read a lot of poems.
Posted 03/17/2014 05:29 AM
A rare poem. I like the theme pretty much. It is bearing a message. read more
Posted 03/16/2014 11:06 AM
I have collected this poem. i am now bookmarked to this for reading a lot of poems.this is a great site for me specially.
Posted 03/15/2014 11:46 AM
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
Wonderful image - brought back memories.
Posted 06/12/2012 04:20 PM
Ah yes!..victories smoothed..delicious poem.
Posted 06/12/2012 11:51 AM
First throat-catch of the day. (Some days, there are none.) Good poem!
Posted 06/12/2012 11:00 AM
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
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
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
I love the moment of parental self-awareness at the end. Lovely poem.
Posted 06/12/2012 06:05 AM

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