Jeff Nazzaro – YOGURT CUP

Yogurt Cup

The plastic cap snapped off

with a pop, the foil peeled

back, my mother and her

yogurt cup. New packaging,

new flavors, the word new.


Perhaps she spooned me out

a little taste. Perhaps not. After

the stainless blade of the spoon

had scraped most of the yogurt,

creamy, white, and teeming

with hidden life from the smooth-

molded plastic curves, I asked for the cup.


She rinsed it well in the kitchen sink,

popped the cap back on with a plastic

snap, and handed the cup to me,

a little boy in late 1970s suburban USA.


I went out to play. I took the yogurt cup,

thought I might put stuff in it—dirt

or rocks or bugs or something.

The O’Reilly’s were in their backyard.

I found them. Little Ryan said, “Let me

see that.” I handed over the cup.


Little Ryan turned the cup around

and around in his hands, then he lobbed

it like a World War II-movie grenade

over the wire fence where his father

dumped the grass clippings.


The fence was too high for me. It

skirted the backyard. There were branches

and brambles and grass clippings.


I looked at my yogurt cup

through the wire grating of the fence,

where it lay nestled in the clippings,

and thought: I don’t have my yogurt

cup anymore, but it’s only a yogurt cup.


I looked at Ryan O’Reilly, his challenging

blue eyes and mop of blond hair. Helplessness

and violence flared up. He was a year younger.

I thought: He is a mean little person, this Ryan

O’Reilly, but he is, after all, just a little person.

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