A Poem for Will, Baking by Susan Rich
Each night he stands before
the kitchen island, begins again
from scratch: chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg,
he beats, he folds;
keeps faith in what happens
when you combine known quantities,
bake twelve minutes at a certain heat.
The other rabbis, the scholars,
teenagers idling by the beach,
they receive his offerings,
in the early hours, share his grief.
It’s enough now, they say.
Each day more baked goods to friends,
and friends of friends, even
the neighborhood cops. He can’t stop,
holds on to the rhythmic opening
and closing of the oven,
the timer’s expectant ring.
I was just baking, he says if
someone comes by. Again and again,
evenings winter into spring,
he creates the most fragile
of confections: madelines
and pinwheels, pomegranate crisps
and blue florentines;
each crumb to reincarnate
a woman – a savoring
of what the living once could bring.