Egg Toss at the Family Reunion

You had to be underhanded. You had to toss
the egg gently to your partner and back up
after each catch. Two steps, I think,
and the lobbed egg falling towards you
made you back your body away from your hands,
cupped, as if waiting for a baby to drop
from the sky. The boys didn’t get very far,
in fact, seemed to like the bloodless
yolk on their fingers, the splattering catch.

I remember those picnics as if they were always
just before dusk, and I was always small
in brand new summer playclothes, blue stars
on red and white stripes, my parents side-lined among the adults
until each kid had had a fair chance.
Then even the elderly aunts would join in, the greats
and the great-greats, their thick shoes and floral knit dresses
unprotected, their soft, identical white hair,
their long faces and turned-up noses, like mine,
their ringed fingers, dead husbands, empty graves.

: Deirdre O’Connor, Before the Blue Hour (2002)

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