Say three Our Fathers to have
A soft-boiled egg done right,
mother would say, and I said four,
even five, slowly, when I thought
I had sinned looking at the photos
of naked women father kept
in his fishing bag, for I believed
that would strengthen my faith.
Mother’s eggs always came out ravish,
with the whites resembling mucus
that would ooze out of the nose
of a kid across the street, whom I
loved to cheat at the game of marbles.
Anyway, mother’s eggs, I construed
impartially, were like that because she,
in fact, prayed to Mary instead.

One morning while she was staring
at the egg that bounced in the water,
and her lips were moving silently,
I ventured my long prepared remark:
The teacher said God would never be
Able to tell us whether he created
A chicken or an egg first. Do you know?
She slapped me and said: Don’t you
Ever ask me those stupid dialectical
Marxist questions again. This school
Poisons your head. God help us all.

But I wanted to know what negated
what, so I decided to be a Marxist.
I refused to eat eggs, chicken,
or any kind of meat because that meant
oppressing other living creatures.
While I was recuperating from para-typhus,
I kept my mouth tightly shut,
making my mother cry as she held
the plate with chicken soup in her lap.

In school I surpassed even my teacher
declaiming about the exploitation
of the masses, the corruption of the rich
who could afford caviar and frog’s legs
and the proletariat only cabbage and beans.
One day the teacher called me
to his desk: Where is all this fervor
coming from, he whispered. It’s the egg
and the chicken, sir. He pointed stiffly
to the corner and I stood there sweating
and inhaling the damp flaky paint.

After the class, when everyone else
was gone, he said gently: Come here.
Enough of that dialectical crap
of yours, you hear me? What you get
in school is for the world; what you
believe in is for you. Listen well,
God in his infinite wisdom created
the egg and the chicken simultaneously.
How’s that for an explanation?

And he motioned with his crooked finger
to the door. Instantly my whole world
crumbled down. I ran home and asked
that night for scrambled eggs. Mother
crossed herself, mumbling sorrowfully:
Lord, please help me with this boy.

The following morning I opened
the cupboard and took out two eggs;
I let them boil till the water
evaporated and I went hoarse praying.