The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Inequality wrapped
in a tinfoil of fairness

Rachael Conlin Levy

Tucked inside four plastic eggs hidden in the backyard was a total of $38: $3 in the first, $5 and $10 in the next two, and $20 in the fourth. The rules of this year’s family egg hunt:

  1. Each person may find only one egg with money inside.
  2. The first egg found must be claimed.

My children hooted at its brilliance, and spent the rest of breakfast imagining a life where parents made more decisions through egg hunts: College education? First car? Inheritance? The lucky child only needed to find the right pretty egg hidden in the grass.

Armed with baskets and bags, they raced into a garden without a single visible egg, as I watched from the kitchen stoop, wrapped in a bathrobe and warmed by a refill of coffee.

The first few eggs cracked open held only jellybeans. After rifling through weeds at the base of the apple tree, the youngest uncovered the $5 egg. Minutes later $10 was found by a second son. The two remaining hunters laughed nervously under the increased pressure, then set to work separating bushes, hunting through the wood pile, searching in tree branches, overturning flower pots, lifting the barbecue’s lid, and poking through a bag of clothespins. A groan rose from my oldest as she split an egg and three bills fluttered to the ground.

Now there was only one child searching for one egg.

He lifted the lid covering an outdoor electrical outlet and found a purple egg. Hurray was followed quickly by, “Oh, no.” His siblings joined him in the search, and together they moved through the yard as Marcel whispered to me the fuzzily recalled locations of the remaining eggs hidden the night before by flashlight. The hunters marched on, from side yard, back to wood pile, to the alley’s tangle of dogwood and grasses. They flanked the rim of the rain garden’s dry pond, parted the long threads of grass and found the final and elusive and golden egg.

To entice the taciturn teen

to hunt eggs in a bucolic scene,

neither cajole, plead nor ask,

only increase the cash,

and welcome a reticent spring.

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in a tinfoil of fairness”

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