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.
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.