In the hen house


American Life in Poetry

Naomi Shihab Nye lives in San Antonio, Texas. Here she perfectly captures a moment in childhood that nearly all of us may remember: being too small for the games the big kids were playing, and fastening tightly upon some little thing of our own.

Boy and Egg

Every few minutes, he wants

to march the trail of flattened rye grass

back to the house of muttering

hens. He too could make

a bed in hay. Yesterday the egg so fresh

it felt hot in his hand and he pressed it

to his ear while the other children

laughed and ran with a ball, leaving him,

so little yet, too forgetful in games,

ready to cry if the ball brushed him,

riveted to the secret of birds

caught up inside his fist,

not ready to give it over

to the refrigerator

or the rest of the day.

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