Pure substance
 
This was a writing prompt from @macaronique, who requested a poem about  baking soda and water being used for deodorizing purposes. 

 -------------------------------------

"Is that sugar?", my daughter asked in a hopeful timbre, her eyes reminding me 

she was still toiling under the strict anti- fructose regimen I had imposed

She continued to judge me as guilty 

"No," I said lightly, hunting for my measuring cups. "Just baking soda, kiddo." 

She glanced at the mixing bowl suspiciously as only a six-year-old could

"What's it for?"


*

So I geared up and we spoke of bread, provoked until its eventual uprising

A doughy Manifest Destiny for cakes and cookies, one that could

sooth skin furious from pollen and peanut attacks, and restore balance to

a swimming pool's gentle bearing. I held the cup in front of her and told

tales of a powder with fortitude enough to remove paint, to suffocate fire, and to

prove victorious over a species that not even a nuclear war could extinguish


*

She gaped at me, my precocious child, sizing up the power that resides under our sink

As the spigot turned and a mauve mixing bowl began to fill, I asked how many

names she had heard for water. "I KNOW what water is, Daddy" she frowned, unable to conceive of

how a person with my level of  incompetence was allowed to operate a kitchen unaided

"We drink it and we use it for baths. I knew that when I was THREE."


*

And while she sang true, for I had witnessed these conquests

I explained, with much gesticulating, how what she drank 

out of a licensed cartoon character mug

also grew the world's crops, fed humanity

calmed equipment that kept our lights burning into the dark

carried people and their goods across the seas

and could destroy cities and civilizations with its terrible anger


*

My daughter shook her barrettes

and stared at the mixture I'd created,

ruminating on the secrets she held 

"But...you COMBINED THEM," she said. "Baking soda AND water! What does THAT do?"

She squirmed with excitement, imagining how she would save the Earth

with an instrument of pure might and ample versatility 

*

"Well," I said, "Actually, I use it to clean the oven." 


She blinked

A mistake had been made

A moment later, she held court in her sandbox,

planning much more efficient applications 

And I hoped the world was ready