Barbara Ras

April 24, 2016 Ras Barbara



Eggs in the cakes invoked by Marie Antoinette.
Shapes that inspired Fabergé’s fifty eggs
for the tsars, jeweled fantasies, of which only forty-three remain.
Eggs in the Azores, eggs in Zanzibar, the same, eggs
from my girlhood, brown shells flecked with specks of darkness.
Eggs in a cone of twisted newspaper I carried home
to our kitchen in Cali, where, no fridge, we kept in a basket
on the shelf. It was the same kitchen when one night
after too much aguardiente we wrote on the white tile walls
with magic markers, “When the pot boils, turn up the heat.”
Eduardo helped us, of course, he knew we had fallen for his song,
and for him, begging, as he sang, to change his thorns to roses.
If I had known better, I would have begged someone to help me
sweep up the eggshells strewn in every room my father
might enter, the rest of us attempting weightlessness,
anything to avoid his wrath. Even stranger, then, that on weekends
he called his scrambled eggs fluffy-yuffies, as if one morning his shell
cracked and the light let in through the venetian blinds captured
a slice of hidden sweetness. And over and over,
egg on your face, then the cringing, repeated returns to that moment
your conversation turned into a painting by Dalí,
an entire egg, sunny-side-up, drooping from your chin.
Get over it.
Whatever you order—boiled, hard or soft, over easy, poached,
brined, coddled or otherwise, the egg
is an egg is an egg, a yellow and white unto itself,
and never, in any imaginable universe, does it taste like chicken.

Barbara Ras is the author of four books of poetry, most recently The Blues of Heaven, praised by Naomi Shihab Nye for its “vivid painterly wonderment.” Previous collections are Bite Every Sorrow, which won the Walt Whitman Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, One Hidden Stuff, and The Last Skin, which received the Texas Institute of Letters for Best Poetry Book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Massachusetts Review, and other magazines, as well as in the online newsletters the “Sunday Paper” and “Brain Pickings.”  She has received awards from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, among others. Ras is the Founding Director Emerita of Trinity University Press. She lives in San Antonio.