At those low light times
when we unwittingly gamble
against the steady hands of
one-eyed Jack can seem to deal
more savvy and shrewd than us.
But, in the long game,
feigning deep vein confidence,
whilst clutching sorry cards
to our most heavy chest,
may serve well enough,
and even bluff the blinkered odds
of the serious strategist.
Cards, did you ever stand? Or was my brilliant house of hearts,
young fumbling fingers darting in to rebuild broken parts,
a childish and imagined thing dreamed up by chilly rooms?
Do you recall the way we played on Sunday afternoons?
In our separate world were marbles, and a box of dominoes,
each indent to be thumbed, the numbers nought to six in rows,
each globe a tiny planet trapped, in subtle colour rolled,
all added up when I was very young and they were old.
And when they called me in at last, I boxed and bagged my friends,
to leave disgruntled kings and queens and keepsies in the end.
One hand still cupped around a shell in which I hear the sea,
I peer through dust of lemon cake washed down with grown-up tea.