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Monday, November 19, 2012

Playing War

Sharon Olds:

As the guests arrive at my son's party 
they gather in the living room-- 
short men, men in first grade 
with smooth jaws and chins. 
Hands in pockets, they stand around 
jostling, jockeying for place, small fights 
breaking out and calming. One says to another 
How old are you? Six. I'm seven. So? 

They eye each other, seeing themselves 
tiny in the other's pupils. They clear their 
throats a lot, a room of small bankers, 
they fold their arms and frown. I could beat you
up, a seven says to a six, 
the dark cake, round and heavy as a 
turret, behind them on the table. My son, 
freckles like specks of nutmeg on his cheeks, 
chest narrow as the balsa keel of a 
model boat, long hands 
cool and thin as the day they guided him 
out of me, speaks up as a host 
for the sake of the group. 
We could easily kill a two-year-old
he says in his clear voice. The other 
men agree, they clear their throats 
like Generals, they relax and get down to 
playing war, celebrating my son's life. 

A vivid memory from freshman seminar, long ago...


November 19, 2012 | Permalink


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