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What He Did With the New Egg

ISSUE:  Spring 1985

1. He finds it too much to handle

I reached into the mother’s dry nest
and removed the new egg.
I cradled it in my arms looking
about, looking
about, and discovered a little thing
to do with it. But it was too large
to flush down the toilet.
I heaved it out the attic window
and watched it fall to the sidewalk;
it bounced a few times, didn’t
break, just rolled into the grass.
It wouldn’t fit into the saucepan.
I tried to stuff it back in
the nest, but it had outgrown that, too.

2. So he imagines it small enough to hold in his hand

I had such power over the future
I could have thrown it over the house,
or dunked it, or closed my hand
on it until it shattered into nothing.
But it rested so lightly on my palm,
so intent upon itself, my hand trembled.
I sat down.
I placed it on a table.
It glowed with my tenderness toward it.
An intricate pattern of blue tracery,
like veins under the skin,
began to show faintly through the shell.
I dipped a small brush
into little circles of color, and painted
the egg’s design upon itself.

3. He decides to let it be

When its glow began to pulse
my eyes went slack;
I saw everything fade
and brighten,
fade and
brighten, in rhythm with my heartbeat.
At the same instant I collapsed
inward to the dot where I sat watching,
the egg exploded, its pieces spreading
in slow motion like an opening fan.
Where the egg had been my brother rises
in his life, throwing a ball
over and over in one graceful act
beyond prediction
toward his death, where he will catch it.

I put the egg back in the nest


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