"Boy and Egg" by Naomi Shihab Nye + Creamy Scrambled Eggs

When I was in college, I once heard Naomi Shihab Nye give a reading and remember thinking how confident she was. Not in a loud, overbearing way, but she just stood in her poems so strongly, the way roots go down into the earth and support the large tree branches above it. Her voice had a certain quietness, but each word was spoken with a strength like she knew she had painstakingly chosen every word and placed them on the page just so, and that each word was exactly right.

Boy and Egg

By Naomi Shihab Nye

Every few minutes, he wants
to march the trail of flattened rye grass
back to the house of muttering
hens. He too could make
a bed in hay. Yesterday the egg so fresh
it felt hot in his hand and he pressed it
to his ear while the other children
laughed and ran with a ball, leaving him,
so little yet, too forgetful in games,
ready to cry if the ball brushed him,
riveted to the secret of birds
caught up inside his fist,
not ready to give it over
to the refrigerator
or the rest of the day.

From the first few lines, I'm captivated by the sense of urgency this boy has to "march the trail of flattened rye grass/ back to the house of muttering/ hens." The words are well chosen here. March the trail sounds so much more purposeful than walk the trail. The hens are muttering, not talking. Already, this little scene is so interesting. In this moment, the young boy is not interested in games or running around the yard with friends. Instead, he'd rather cup warm eggs in his hands, an intensely intimate experience.

Soft scrambled eggs convey the mood of this poem so well. First of all, these are not ordinary scrambled eggs, and by ordinary I mean the kind that we're all guilty of making or ordering in diners, that are fluffy and spongy and overcooked. I think it's very easy to get used to this kind of egg, and even enjoy it, but I promise you that once you try this variation, you may not want to go back. There will be a mood in the kitchen when you make these. It will be quiet, early morning, and you'll stand over the stove swirling your spatula over and over in the pan. You may not have trampled through tall grass to get there (more likely, you stumbled from the bedroom and down the hall), but the act of preparation is a lingering one, like the boy with the chickens, alone in the coop, listening to what they had to say.


Recipe adapted from Ruth Reichl, Gilt Taste

The original recipe calls for a ghastly 30 minutes of cooking time, but you can still achieve tender eggs in about 15 minutes.

6 eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Grilled bread, chives and sliced tomato, for serving

Crack 6 eggs into a bowl and mix them well with a fork; season with salt. Pour them into a 2-quart saucepan set over very low heat and stir with a spatula continuously. As the eggs cook, add small pats of butter until all has been incorporated. Cook for about 15 minutes, until creamy and nearly set. Serve over grilled toast, tomato and finish with a sprinkle of chives.