Paper Sandwich Bag

by Jennifer Porter

Little Lamb was the size of a peanut when his father carried him in a paper sandwich bag to the emergency room. The doctor opened the bag and said, “Oh.” The brown doctor had kind brown eyes and asked Little Lamb’s mother if she wanted to take him home. Her heart rending asunder, Little Lamb’s mother looked without comprehension at the doctor. She did not know where to put him. Or how to put him where he might need to go. Little Lamb’s mother did not take him home that day. Instead, she spent the rest of her life wondering if the paper sandwich bag had gone into the incinerator, Little Lamb inside it, or if Little Lamb had become the object of scientific inquiry. But Little Lamb never meant to haunt his mother in this manner. It had been okay to be in the bag. He’d already gone home.

Jennifer Porter lives in metro-Detroit, where she grew up and learned to appreciate rock n’ roll and the steely determination of Michiganders. Her writing has appeared in Fifth Wednesday Journal, The Writing Disorder, Old Northwest Review, drafthorse, The Dos Passos Review, and other fine journals. She’s the prose editor at The Tishman Review and earned her MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Paper Sandwich Bag”?

    I tend to be pretty much obsessed with my past. I was sitting in a micro-fiction class led by Dorene O’Brien and she challenged us to give the reader a moment when a character lost something. “Paper Sandwich Bag” was born, but I sat on the piece. It wasn’t easy emotionally to bring myself back to it and revise. I don’t find it easy to write anything I write these days. It’s like driving on Michigan roads during pothole season.
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