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Object Lesson

When I saw a huge tattooed man
cradle a carton of eggs 
like a newborn,

open the soft cardboard lid 
and nudge each oval
with one blunt finger,

I thought of the morning news
showing dozens and dozens 
of children, 

crouched in cages 
like factory chickens,
small hearts pounding.

A child’s heart weighs
hardly anything, 
less than the carton 

the man closed and placed, 
carefully as glass, 
in the basket of his shopping cart, 

on top of the plastic flap
warning that children 
should not stand up

or be left unattended.

​                                Erica Goss

Erica Goss won the 2019 Zocalo Poetry Prize. She served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, CA from 2013-2016. She is the author of Night Court, winner of the 2016 Lyrebird Award, Wild Place and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets. Recent work appears in Lake Effect, Atticus Review, Contrary, Convergence, Spillway, Eclectica, The Tishman Review, Tinderbox, The Red Wheelbarrow, and Main Street Rag, among others. She is editor of Sticks & Stones, a bi-monthly poetry newsletter. Please visit her at www.ericagoss.com.