If Saints Baked Cookies... - Poem by Max Reif
Ms. Michal is baking cookies
with a dozen preschool 'helpers'
seated around the table.
'Who wants to add the oats? '
asks her kind, bright voice.
'I want to do it! ' one girl's voice sings,
words echoed a second later
by the girl next to her, and then
by the girl next to her.
'Can I put in the vanilla? '
a boy's refrain repeats
at brief intervals until he's answered,
using that ancient technique small people
have evolved to get needs met.
Ms. Michal has led the children
through a dozen steps
of pouring, mixing,
squishing butter and sugar into one,
and measuring egg substitute
in teaspoons because
of one girl's allergy to eggs.
At every step there has been fairness,
some equivalence of stirs and pours:
each time there's not, a squeaky wheel
has squeaked and gotten greased.
Ms. Michal gives aesthetic
and spiritual dimensions due, as well.
She passes the small, dark vanilla bottle
around, for everyone to get a whiff.
When one girl drops it on the floor
such things to be expected
she calmly says, 'Please pick it up
and pass it on.' And then,
holding the silver bowl of batter up,
and tilting it, she says, 'Now for the most
important part. We need to add some love! '
We each open our heart and pour
its contents in, invisibly.
'Now how about some laughter? That's
another way of showing love! ' We
aim guffaws into the bowl.
Each child shapes a cookie,
then goes on to other work.
The table slowly empties.
Outdoors, awhile later,
as the children sit
on quilts upon the sunlit grass,
behold! The ingredients,
preceded by sentinels of aroma,
small, flat hunks of unity.
Ms. Michal's lessons
are deliciously absorbed.
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