The Hardest Part


The box comes in the mail.

Eagerly you open it.

I roll my eyes in skepticism

as you unpack the cheap plastic incubator

and one quailís egg.


The hours pass.

You check and recheck.

I try to prepare you for the disappointment

of its stillbirth.


A tiny beak begins to poke through.

Hour after hour it struggles to break free.

Finally, exhausted, it is born.

You hold it near your glowing face

as I snap a picture of the proud papa.

I can not believe you brought it life.

I am thrilled with your success.


Within hours it dies.

Your heart is broken.


I know at this moment that the hardest part

is not teaching discipline.

It is watching you suffer.


1996 Linda Wallin