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Stone Soup

Stone Soup

By Laurel Aronian, 16, New York

Elizabeth gave us our assignment:
“Today in class you will be making stone soup.” She held up the book for all to see.
“You want us to cook?” a bold boy asked.
“Of course,” said Elizabeth, and handed us the aprons.

We went into the kitchen in the parallel classroom,
And listened to the clink of knives and the bustle of our classmates.
Each of the grades would provide a vegetable,
And as fourth graders, we were assigned the onions.

My friend and I wondered what genius had given us this task.
The teachers only provided us with long, silver knives, intentionally dulled down.
We set to work at our stations, passing the onions and shielding our eyes.

Over time, we came up with useful solutions to protect us from the sting and fiery smell.
Some kids passed around their glasses.
Others grabbed goggles from the science cabinet.
Some even asked the teachers for a slice of bread to hold in their mouths.
We were some wimpy fourth graders.

Yet things improved when we found solutions that worked.
The goggles fared well against the fumes,
And we learned to take turns passing around the glasses.
Soon enough, we had seven big bowls filled with the slices.

We walked outside as a pack and sat on shedding tarps.
We huddled closer around the fire, shielded from air like needles,
We felt our size as we sat with the lower grades, leaders of the school.
And we watched Elizabeth take the lead and open the book once more.

The rumble turned to patter as she began to read,
As the students slowly deposited their chopped vegetables
The smell of the soup filled the air,
The bubbling pot and voices a chorus on the wind.

When it was our turn, we stood up with our bowls of onions.
Full of pride, dropping them in the sizzling soup.
We realized what Elizabeth was trying to teach us,
Standing there with our dulled knives and aprons.

If we were given the solutions to our problems,
We would never learn.
We would never create.
For the next time we made soup without assistance.

The sound of the realization was the clink of spoons,
The passing of mugs, the shatter as one fell,
The clatter of a dustpan as we swiped up the shards,
The happy chatter as well enjoyed good food.

The smell of the vegetables mingling together,
The burning wood within the fire,
The earthiness of the dirt on which we sat,
The wool of our mittens in the chilly air.

Tasting the soup was the ultimate prize,
If we hadn’t been the chefs, we wouldn’t have realized,
The distinct change the onions made to the overall aroma,
And never would’ve known to add them.

Elizabeth taught us more than numbers that day,
She taught us the impact every action makes,
Not only would we be able to make stone soup once again,
But we’d learned creativity in solving the problems at hand.

By Laurel Aronian, 16, Connecticut.

“I love to write in all genres (poetry, prose, journalism). I also enjoy taking photos and creating art. I have a passion for music and perform as a singer-songwriter and accompany on guitar. When I’m not writing or making music, I play competitive chess.

My poetry submissions highlight multicultural awareness as I am of multicultural heritage and recently celebrated Ramadan, Passover, and Easter. My pieces also reflect the awe of nature, earth stewardship, and our planet’s majesty and magic.”