by Al Basile

Set down by Mother, in a rush, the brown
egg wobbled drunkenly around the dish,
skidded as Maya brought her finger down
to poke it – it would take a special wish
to make it small enough to fit her face,
and not too hard for baby teeth to bite.
Her older brother, watching from his place
across the kitchen table, to incite
his sister’s tears, piped up in impish glee
“Betcha can’t make it stand up on end.”
She tried it as he grinned in mockery:
each end up, she couldn’t comprehend
why every time she took her hand away
the top would lose its balance and descend,
and once again she’d look on in dismay.
Her brother saw no reason to extend
her agitation. With a gallant reach
across the table, and a knowing smirk,
he said “Okay, now watch – I’m gonna teach
you how. Here’s all it takes to make it work.”
With that, he raised the egg and brought it down,
and cracked the big end on the table top.
It stood in fractured majesty. The frown
on Maya’s face transformed into a drop
at first, and then a torrent, of her tears.
Fetched by her daughter’s cries, Mother surveyed
the damage on the table. There are fears
not only groundless, but a grace displayed
upon a transformation of our sight.
“It’s busted,” Maya sobs. “Oh, honey, no -”
her Mother says, “It’s not. It’s still all right.
It’s just this broken shell that’s got to go.”
Her practiced hands remove the covering.
The egg, unshelled, is placed back on the plate,
its white on white, an unmasked lover hovering
above the surface of its unlike mate.
Maya’s expression quiets down to mild:
she sees a vapor round the white orb wreathing
warm against the china dish. The child,
eyes wide in wonder, coos out “Look – it’s breathing.”


Watch author Al Basile read “Maya’s First Hard Boiled Egg” at this link.

Photo: Gordon Saunders, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED