Mine Liked This Game
Did your mother save the wishbone, would
She dry it for a treat and let you play
Against her? Mine liked this game. "Let's see," she'd say,
"If you can beat me,"--and I'd pretend I could.
Quick, what did I want? What could be good
Enough to take my mother's wish away?
But that's the game: let splintered halves convey
Whose wish comes true--at least she said it should.
And now I'm grown, a wishbone in my hand.
Can I teach my daughter what I missed?
Will she be torn in half, or understand
Some rule on when and why to make this fist:
The moment you know what you have to do,
Pull hard and fast, and crack the bone clean through?
Apples? No good. If I were going to try
and tempt you, it would be with pecan pie,
sticky and sweet, or steak--filet mignon--
or burnished Irish whiskey, burring on
the tongue, the taste of darkened candlelight.
Besides, an apple's everything that sex
is not-crisp, clean--then there's that whole Snow White
thing happening: the ugly hag, the hex.
Who'd want one after that? But I'll make do;
this apple's what I've got to offer you.
If knowledge is a fruit that men desire,
I'll hold it, out of reach, a little higher...
Perhaps there are times that an apple's right.
Here--I dare you. Know me. Take a bite.
Walking on Ice
Foot traffic on the lake's increasing lately.
The fishermen are out without a boat,
Building fires and drilling holes sedately
In the only thing that's keeping them afloat.
Some folks are skating, measurers who know
The thickness of the thing, the hard and soft
Of it. They don't mistake the ice and snow
For something magic keeping them aloft.
The only ones unsure out here are geese,
Who clamor cautiously onto the lake.
The fact that they can fly gives them no peace--
Their wing-and-prayer approach to what might break
Recalls what lies beneath, how footing changes,
How pressure builds and cracks and rearranges.
Party Games, Circa 1974
Do you remember "Truth or Dare"? We feared
Them both. One question: "Ginger or Maryanne?"
The uncouth guys picked Ginger, and we sneered,
We girls, we Maryannes: act helpless, coy,
All in an evening gown? But if some boy
Said "Maryanne," we looked at him askance;
Was he a liar? Or more truthful than
The rest, so grab him as our only chance?
Our turn. Who would we be? Our sure retort:
We hung on tight to "Maryanne," the life
Preserver, virgin, picnic-planner wife,
Longing to let the Ginger out, cavort--
The chosen one--with all we called uncouth,
Accept the dare for once and not the truth.