The Mom Egg

Tara L. Masih

& Mary Lou Wilshaw-Watts

The Things We Can’t Discard

by Tara L. Masih

I have this box full of items that have no place, no room on my crowded vanity or in my closetless bedroom. So they sit in a large shoebox in the middle of the floor, waiting for me to spontaneously find the right storage spot. You, of course, discover it before that can happen. Your attention span is short. It goes all over the place, bouncing like the rubber handball we used to slap against the school’s back brick walls during recess—to the window, to the coffee table, to the rattle, to the balloon on the floor. But this box settles you for a few minutes, focuses you. I get a much-needed break. We sit on the carpet, and you choose your pick of these homeless treasures. Your favorite game becomes the simple task of me hiding a scarf. You watch as I gather it into the purse, close the flap, and press the snap on my leather “dress-up” wedding clutch. I hand it to you, and each time it’s a new discovery, your struggle to unsnap and then pull out the blue gossamer—a scarf, I think, my mother wore around a ponytail in the sixties. When you lose interest in this game, you retrieve a square tortoise-shell comb from the box, a heavy gold-plated necklace, and find delight in pulling them out of the round, straw souvenir purse from Bermuda. This one has no snap, is just lined in soft cotton. Your mind is being stimulated by texture—cold metal, scratchy straw, soft silk, slippery leather. You are learning about impermanence, and that there is wonder even in the things we can’t discard.

[art: 3”d x 5/12”w, by ML Wilshaw-Watts, untitled]

Tara L. Masih is editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction (a ForeWord Book of the Year) and author of Where the Dog Star Never Glows (a 2010 Best Books Award finalist). She has published fiction, poetry, and essays in numerous anthologies and literary magazines (including Confrontation, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Natural Bridge, The Pedestal, Night Train, and The Caribbean Writer). Awards for her work include first place in The Ledge Magazine’s fiction contest, four Pushcart Prize nominations, and a Best New American Voices and a Best of the Web nomination.

Mary Lou Wilshaw-Watts is the part-time publications editor for the Center for Archaeological Investigations at Southern Illinois University and a freelance copy editor. Her passion for the arts runs wide and deep: in her spare time she works in her metalsmithing studio on projects in the jizai okimono tradition; she has illustrated and written several chapbooks for the Feral Press (; and she relishes fine literature, delights in classical music, and feels ballet feeds her soul.  She lives in the Midwest with her husband, Clay, who tolerates her old bad habits while teaching her new ones, makes fun of her eccentricities, and in other ways tempers her spirit.

Copyright 2011 The Mom Egg.

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