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Lost Pearl

Updated: Aug 5, 2018

By Lewis Gardner

In the Times Square Nathan’s dining room—

from fancy days as Toffenetti’s—while eating

a fried-oyster sandwich, I bit something hard.

I feared a stone, a dislodged filling, a chunk

of shell, but my tongue found a pearl

tiny, but a perfect sphere, a dot of opalescence

on my fingertip, the idea of pearlishness more than

potential jewel—no real value, yet formed

by the same extravagant response to an irritant

as a priceless one, or as a poem is formed.

I admit: I lost it. In one of the years of the decades

since, I misplaced it, or else it vanished as minor

souvenirs will, hiding between boards

of a dresser drawer or pulled out with coins or tie tack

to roll away on the floor. The pearl is not

a symbol of what is lost. I have enough

reminders of lost friends, lost opportunities,

lost youth or money. That a pearl was lost is not

important, but that something real, something rare,

something of value once was found

in a mediocre sandwich in a drab space of a dim

place on a gray street—on a day without consequence,

it took its brief place among the world’s

honored specks of substance. It isn’t owning

pearls that matters, but finding them.

About the author: Lewis Gardner has been published in many magazines and anthologies. His plays have been performed and published around the world.

Author statement:

In my written work – poems, fiction, plays, essays – I believe in communication with readers. I don't think it makes sense to write in a way that is difficult or impossible to understand. Writing can be self-expression for the writer, but it must also be useful to the reader.

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