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.
Itâ€™s enough now, they say.
Each day more baked goods to friends,
and friends of friends, even
the neighborhood cops. He canâ€™t stop,
holds on to the rhythmic opening
and closing of the oven,
the timerâ€™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 â€“ a savoring
of what the living once could bring.