When My Head Gets Too Big, I Remember | Literary Arts | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

When My Head Gets Too Big, I Remember

I was a poached egg in the first grade play.
That is all I remember about first grade ...
that and a boy named Harry,
who wore dirty shirts, torn knickers,
and smelled like my grandma's cellar.
He always tried to sit by me,
pull my braids, upset my box
of cardboard letters, put his hands
on my desk so I couldn't print.

Harry did not have a part in the play.
He was not a pork chop, potato,
apple, or glass of milk. He stood
in the back row, part of the chorus
that introduced each basic food
as we took a step forward.
Proudly, I held my cardboard egg
covering me from chin to knee
and painted white with a glob of yellow.
"Eggs help you to run fast," I said.

That day after school, Harry
ran down the hill after me
shouting so all the kids could hear,
"Rotten egg! Rotten egg!"

-- Anita Gevaudan Byerly


Anita Gevaudan Byerly grew up in Braddock and lived in Edgewood for many years. Her third book, Steam Rising, published by MadBooks, was completed and edited shortly before her death on Nov. 21, 2009. Her other books are October Light (Finishing Line Press) and a chapbook, Digging a Hole to China. A tribute reading, free and open to the public, takes place 1 p.m. Sat., Jan. 23, at St. Edmunds Academy (Hillman Auditorium), 5705 Darlington Road, Squirrel Hill.

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