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.