Quail

meaning a bird and its young,
low in the underbrush. Meaning

to tremble in the face
of the oncoming. And miniature

speckled worlds, boiled
and packed six to a narrow

plastic bag knotted at one end,
salt rolled in a bit of torn

newsprint tucked at the top,
like a secret. Children hawk

them to passengers boarding
buses for the humid city—

They eat them without noticing
how easily the shells crack

and peel off like a rind; how each
one can then be swallowed whole.

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