Marjorie Stelmach, "Scorpion Eggs"



           Who, if asked for an egg would give to his child 

                a scorpion? (Lk 11.12)  



See him there above the stove smiling benignly

      as we drag in all sleepy-eyed and sullen. 

Our daily fare: a single, traditional scorpion egg—

      soft-boiled and cupped or sunny-side up, 

poached, scrambled, however you like it. 

      Our father has his ways, waking us early 

to the world’s guises, immunizing us 

      with these unassuming ovals of uniform beige—

though you can buy them gilded or blued, aged 

      and glazed, or scarlet hued for holidays.


It’s not as nasty as I make it seem. The creature 

      inside is unfertilized, its pungent aftertaste 

briefly pleasing and easily washed down 

      with a chilled glass of milkweed.  

The fabled stinger? Who can say? 

      Never fully articulated? Atrophied 

before reaching a size to wound 

      its intended wielder? Whatever.

The point is we must learn to savor our most 

      enduring metaphors. Order yours up, 

and Father will fix it to suit your taste.  

      But recall how quickly an egg grows cold. 

The abiding rule of the family table is: eat

     when you’re served, swallow what you’re told.



Marjorie Stelmach’s most recent volume of poetry is Without Angels (2014, Mayapple). Prior volumes include Bent upon Light and A History of Disappearance (University of Tampa Press). Her first book, Night Drawings, was selected by David Ignatow to receive the Marianne Moore Prize. Stelmach’s  poems also have appeared in Arts & LettersBoulevard, Cincinnati Review, EllipsisFlorida ReviewGettysburg Review, Image, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Tampa Review, and other magazines.