The Hardest Part

The box comes in the mail.
Eagerly you open it.
I roll my eyes in skepticism
as you unpack the cheap plastic incubator
and one quail’s egg.

The hours pass.
You check and recheck.
I try to prepare you for the disappointment
of its stillbirth.

A tiny beak begins to poke through.
Hour after hour it struggles to break free.
Finally, exhausted, it is born.
You hold it near your glowing face
as I snap a picture of the proud papa.
I can not believe you brought it life.
I am thrilled with your success.

Within hours it dies.
Your heart is broken.

I know at this moment that the hardest part
is not teaching discipline.
It is watching you suffer. 

1996 Linda Wallin