"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."
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