Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2017  Vol. 16 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Letter 14

I had a thought recently. It took me back to my days working grocery. There was this lady and her toddler son sitting at the top of a cart. He was dirty, as if he’d been rolling in it. His mom had picked up a carton of eggs. I watched the kid work his way through the carton and pick one of the eggs to hold in his hands, and all throughout the store as his mom browsed, he kept it. When she was done, she came to my line to check out. I just stood there, useless, watching her kid, and the mom unload, eggs last. The kid’s grip was still firm around the one he picked. Stupid, I thought. I might have been jealous. It was clear to me he got it in his head the egg would hatch if he continued to hold it. At that age, I already knew that could never happen because the thing inside was already dead. Did you ever do that? Look out into the world in the moment you were in and be forced to know more clearly than anyone should ever have to and admit you’ve already missed out on it? That somehow, without yet having your chance, the moment has been ruined? The mom reached for the egg her son was holding so I could scan it with the rest of the carton. He raised it as high as he could away from her and screamed. It’s all right, I said, the barcode is on the carton. He can hold on to it. I thought, what would happen when it was time to cook it? Maybe his mom would forget about it, and maybe the kid would wrap it in a blanket and hide it under something until it went rotten and started stinking. Maybe the mom would pry the egg from his fingers because it’s food not to go wasted. Maybe the kid would do what so many children do, drop it, have a fit, be devastated to napping, and wake up having forgotten about it. I know there are no guarantees, Mr. Hen.  

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