Begin with a morning when clocks tick
without urgency: no one has meetings,
there is no school, even the frantic city
recedes to the quiet thump of a newspaper
hitting the front walk. Add

a father descending the stairs: his step
must be light, his face free of the dark
moods that haunt his difficult days.
He must roll up his sleeves. He must say,
“How about pancakes?” Proceed to a kitchen

Its windows overlooking a yard
flanked by rows of well-disciplined
flowers the father regards with a critical eye.
A child must enter the room; he must tell her
to find the griddle and retrieve

the yellow bowl from its cupboard while he
brings milk, butter, and eggs from the fridge.
She must lean beside him and ask
how he learned to make pancakes just
as he starts to mix ingredients, so that he stirs

the batter back through time, to a farm
in Nebraska—eggs from the henhouse, milk
from their cows, his huge family crowding
around the dining room table; his father’s grace,
his mother’s muscular arms and delicate blintzes.


M. E. Wagner is an editor and writer, author or co-author of seven nonfiction books (including Maxfield Parrish and the Illustrators of the Golden Age and America and the Great War).