On the Day I Was Late


I stopped in a cafe anyway, and the people there were young and beautiful, and I stayed anyway, and a small dog went by across the street as I was putting honey in my peppermint tea, which doesn't matter. The dog's small shadow bounced along a brick wall, and what mattered was how the sun had gone sideways. It had no business making such a shadow at 9 AM on a city morning. It was reflecting off some window, which doesn't matter. Other important things were happening. A long layer of clouds was settling over the coast mountains fifty miles west. I would see them when I got to where I was going. Back home a nuthatch had hung upside down on the suet feeder outside the kitchen window. The unwashed teacups in the sink stayed unwashed. Other important things must be allowed for. The cafe door opening, the smell of December coming on. A red convertible going by with the top down. The basket of eggs on the cafe counter. Several were marble. One was silver metal. I picked them up, one at a time, because that is what one does with eggs, even if one is late. The important thing is the egg in one's palm. I put each egg back in the basket as carefully as if it were a real egg. The world is spinning faster than the beautiful young people will know, until they are no longer young and beautiful, until one day they see the sun slipping sideways. And forever after that they will say, Remember the day we were late, and the sun slipped sideways?

What matters -- an impossibly tiny hummingbird egg under a forsythia bush. What matters -- the blue Easter egg my father set on the top edge of a picture frame in the blue living room, hidden in plain sight.