East of Eden, the end of an afternoon’s nap
finds us sprawled cheek to toe, deep in a game
of chance. Never mind romance, at four,
this was what I knew: days shape themselves
after your whim, I look to you.
Sixes and sevens, you’d say as you palm
for the win. Odds and evens, I’d count off
each spin as the squares fall away. I always
stay, even as the numbers begin adding up
not to my salvation, but my ruin.
Freed from hiding at last, the snakes
twist wetly and flick their tongues
in an intimation of garden-variety lust.
I pull out cracker after cracker from a box
and ponder: in this game, what truth do we trust?
Our years’ careful reckoning ups the ante:
Is it a draw, or is it over? You will turn nine
in September and shortly thereafter
will no longer speak to me, or
to anyone else, for all that it should matter.
I have learned to hedge my bets, to err on
the side of caution. Afternoons now, the sun
through that one window: a cold eye that ogles
the whorl on my thumb, skims the blue of my
bent head, and brings to light much, much less.