By Chuck Etheridge

Note: The author wrote this poem after learning that cascarones were banned in El Paso parks and restricted at border crossings.

Criminalizing Cascarones

Cascarones, confetti eggs,
Handfuls of joy,
Colored eggs stuffed
With multicolored bits of paper,

A puff of rainbow
Radiating outward
When broken on a head,
Or arm, or shoulder.

Simple joys,
Reminders of childhood
Saving eggs for months,
Carefully opening one end

Letting the egg flow out,
Rinsing each carefully,
Letting them dry,
In a growing pile

Of Easter-awaiting awesomeness,
Then dying the eggs,
Spooning in colored confetti
Gluing a paper strip on one end

All awaiting Easter.
In the afternoon,
We went outside,
Or to the park

And would chase each other,
Breaking eggs on each other’s heads,
If we were nice,
Breaking the egg in our hand first,

Either way, rubbing confetti everywhere,
Until we all looked
Like we’d run
Through a rainbow-colored snowstorm.

My hometown now bans cascarones,
In city parks,
And Customs and Border Protection,
Which we used to call la migra,

Seizes cascarones at the border.
To protect the environment,
To prevent the spread of avian flu.
I understand why these bans happened,

But something’s lost,
The simple, childhood joy,
Of beaning your brother with a confetti egg,
May soon be illegal.

Chuck Etheridge grew up in El Paso and graduated from UTEP. He’s published two novels set in El Paso, “Border Canto” and “The Desert After Rain,” both of which are about growing up in West-Central El Paso in the 1970s.