(retelling a well-known parable)
“I don’t see how I’ll make it, Mom,” I whined.
“I’m sick of trying — frazzled, torn, and raw.”
(She never interferes or speaks her mind
unless invited.) All she said was, “Aww …
“… poor baby.” Then she spooned another egg
into the boiling water. Watching her
in quiet motion brought me down a peg.
My snivels dried. The carrots got a stir.
She poured us both a cup of coffee, then
proposed a riddle. “See what’s on each burner?
Well, how are they alike?” I scratched my chin
(to buy some time — I’m not the fastest learner).
So Mom explained: “When heated pressure surges
inside a pot of water, it will boil.
There’s nothing going through it that emerges
unchanged, unless it’s chicken fat or oil.
“A carrot goes in hard and comes out tender,
while eggs are just the opposite; they start
their boil with fragile guts, soft-shelled surrender
that toughens up. … But coffee bubbles smart.
“Its strength and color permeate the water
with flavor of its own — it steals the scene.
Now, sort things out and tell me, darling daughter:
Are you a carrot, egg, or coffee bean?”
2002 Mary Boren