The Chicken and the Egg

A new poem from the Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet

The chicken for dinner with earnest friends, the egg for breakfast
with folks who like to play with their food before they eat it.

The chicken fills you up so you can’t move,
the egg cracks open, and choices begin—

scrambled, sunny side up, Benedict... Throw in peppers,
cheese, slices of onion, and you have an omelette.

One good, narrow pleasure for the ethicist,
many pleasures for the omelette maker.

The ethicist can’t help thinking of Benedict Arnold,
the egg—of Ben, Benjamin, Benny, the varieties

that emerge all gooey, shapeless, to be fooled with.
Yet sometimes the chicken is both necessary and sufficient,

and sometimes your earnest friends instruct you
about how to live with the beak and the gizzard.

The egg allows itself to be hard boiled or deviled.
It doesn’t worry. To live right isn’t an issue.

Stephen Dunn

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