Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Brown Paper Lunch Bag

Every school-day morning
I packed my lunch
In a brown paper bag
Wrapping my peanut butter and jelly sandwich
With wax paper, cut by sharp serrated edges on the box
The jelly always soaked through
And left squishy purple spots
On soft white bread
An apple and two cookies—
never more, even though I asked—
filled the bottom of the bag
The sandwich was hopefully placed on top
So it would not get squashed
But it always did

I wrote my name in pencil with capital letters
So no one in the class would get my lunch
By mistake or on purpose
As if someone would even want it --
An apple and two cookies
And peanut butter-and-jelly soaked bread

Every day I opened my bag
Feeling sure that just this once
There would be some exotic thing inside—
Green grapes like Cecelia's,
Peanut butter crackers like Tommy had
Or maybe even chocolate-covered marshmallows
Like Diane carried in her shiny
Pink-and-white metal lunch box

It never happened, not in all the time
I carried my lunch in a brown paper bag
But I never stopped believing
a miracle could happen
That Sister Margaret Mary
Would sprinkle secret holy water on my lunch
And change its plain contents
Into food fit for a king
Or for the undiscovered princess
With freckles and blue eyes
In the second desk in row three


sapphirescarlet said...

"undiscovered princess"
What a stepping stone that phrase could be! I love it.

Small Pines said...

Gorgeous poem. Really evocative. I felt like I knew exactly each thought.

Granny Sue said...

Thank you for those comments. Lunch bags certainly bring back memories for many of us in a certain generation. There were no school lunches where I went to school so you had to carry your lunch. Every now and then I got lucky and had a lunch box, and once in a gerat while an actual thermos! Then I really felt special. But mostly it was the ol' paper bag.

Jaime said...

That was a lovely poem.

There was definitely hot lunch during my generation. We used to through our biscuits against the wall to see which one would chip first - the biscuit or the cement block.

Granny Sue said...

Jaime, you make my lunch bag sound like a gourmet feast! School lunches were not much good when I got to high school either, but by then I was in that girl stage of not eating anyway.

Susan said...

Wow. I'm there, in that poem; you've brought back a whole childhood full of the little things that kids feel so deeply, though others never see. It's beautiful.

My lunch was the same every day too, ketchup and baloney on white bread and a banana or a box of raisins. God I can't eat that combination now; I'd choke if I tried. LOL

Granny Sue said...

I'd be reaching for Zantac or similar stuff, Susan! I loved baloney when I was a kid, now I can't stand the smell of it without my stomach burning.

Juli said...

Absolutely Wonderful !!

How funny it is that I so envied the kids with soggy P&J sandwiches. My sister and I got free lunches but I was embarassed by it and rarely ever ate anything.

lilly said...

We went to the country school for my first 3 years of school and I'm so old I can't remember what we carried our lunch in. All I remember is cold potato sandwiches with mayo, salt and pepper or lettuce sandwiches. Maybe thats why I don't like potatoes very much today. Aren't memories wonderful. Lilly

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