2016 Junior Authors Poetry Contest Winner Category 3
Sarah Ang, Age 16, Singapore
How to Boil an Egg
Fill the saucepan with three inches of water,
enough to envelop the egg but not enough to drown it.
I will not ask about why you came back at 3 am the night before again,
The stench of cigarette smoke surrounding you like a cloud,
Tiptoed into my room to check if I was asleep.
You will pretend you never noticed my uneven breathing,
Or the flutter of my eyelids as you close the door.
We have long mastered the art
Of forgetting what we want to.
Turn on the stove, let the tongues of flame lick the pan
Until enraged, the water boils.
Then, reduce the heat, until the water merely simmers.
I sit at the table, watching you prepare eggs for the two of us.
Lethargy is evident in your movements,
Resignation written in the curve of your spine.
And I want to rise up from the table,
Shake your shoulders, demand answers to the questions
That always remain unasked.
But I, too, am tired.
There are some things better left unsaid.
Gently lower the eggs into the water,
Allow them to ease slowly, finding their place.
Wait-5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, according to your liking.
There are various ways an egg can be boiled.
I like mine soft-boiled, the yolk barely set,
A miniature sun in an ocean of white cloud.
You like yours hard boiled, firm yolk,
Stiff white, unyielding, inflexible.
After your preferred time, remove the egg from the water.
Place in an egg cup, and serve.
Boiling eggs is a relaxing process.
You would say as you handed me the egg, still hot
An olive branch between us.
There is a science to opening a soft-boiled egg.
Press too lightly and the egg remains unbroken,
Refusing to yield its elusive contents.
Press too hard and the egg caves in on itself,
Splinters of shell marring its wholeness.
No. Just the right amount of pressure is required to
Tap around the top of the shell,
Slicing through wafer-thin membrane with a knife,
To reveal the enigma underneath.
I see writing as a way to illuminate the untold stories of the world, and in doing so, pursue meaning in my own way. “How To Boil An Egg” echoes the tumultuous relationship my mother and I share–although we often argue and lash out at each other, a deep mutual tenderness resides beneath our fiery exchanges. This is a tribute to my mother and her immeasurable influence on not just my writing, but my entire life.