The Slow Glittering of Far-Flung Diamonds

Photograph by Jose Padua
I almost bought a $98 chicken this morning.
I know the first question some friends will ask
is why I’m still eating meat, especially when it’s
probably coming from the processing plant
down in Edinburg, Virginia, but it was plump
and cool in the refrigerated bins at the grocery store,
and I was not quite awake. I brought five other
items with me to the checkout line, and when
the clerk said “$108” I pulled out my wallet,
and took out my bank card before saying,
“What?” It was payday, when the biggest chunks
of money go out not without a thought but
with less regret and trepidation, but I didn’t
recall ever spending that much money that
early in the morning, which gave me pause.
The clerk was either just young or not
quite awake either or both, but she didn’t
think anything was odd about five items and
a chicken adding up to over a hundred bucks
and asked a manager to come over to help.
That’s when we discovered the $98 chicken,
and the guy behind me in line said, “That
must be one damn good chicken,” and I said,
“And at this price it better not be just good,
but give me superpowers as well.” And
though the guy laughed, I suddenly felt bad,
because there were so many days behind me,
so much dark history in the world, so many
times when I could have made a difference
and I chose this moment to wish for superpowers.
And I remembered when I was five I used to say
to my Mom that when I grew up I would buy her
a Rolls Royce, a diamond ring, a castle. Now
that I’m older, I would much rather cook her
a meal that she’d eat, then say “sarap”—which
means ‘good’ and ‘delicious’—and I’d tell her
how I almost paid a hundred dollars for a chicken.
And I’d take her for a drive, in our dirty, beat-up
car to show her the time, here in the mountains,
in the early evening, when the fragile sunlight
peeking out between the trees is like
the slow glittering of far-flung diamonds.

–Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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