Initiation

You never played the tricky games

I liked, Amelia. My favorite was Initiation.

We took a new girl, sat her down in someone’s

living room and stationed glasses for water

and glasses for wine– thin-stemmed crystal

in difficult patterns on a bare-wood floor

We gave the girl a minute to memorize

a route that would get her across the room.

Then someone led her off, blindfolded her.

We cleared the glasses away– they led her back.

The blinded girl would begin her crossing…. Some shuffled

and some tiptoed an invisible wire across

the wilderness. They teetered and wavered and flailed

their hands, trying to keep their balance, to keep

from breaking a single glass. And we’d call out

directions or hysterical expressions of

concern. –Turn right! No! No! Watch out!– One girl,

not very bright, overweight, eager to please,

crashed to the ground like a felled ox.

That’s how afraid I am to touch you, Amelia.

When the blindfold comes off, will I see a crowd

of war-whooping girls, everyone doubled with laughter?

Or will I be lying in my own living room, everyone

long ago fled, broken glass all over the bare-wood

floor, darkness coming and mother due home?

 

Published in Human Trappings, Abattoir Editions (1979).

3 thoughts on “Initiation

  1. The coming of age trope come across intensely fresh woven with the confessional work of this piece. The end brought me a shiver. I was reading about your many accomplishments in your “Shameless Self-Promotion” blog as well and this work really shows the strength of emotion a lifetime of dedication to an art can achieve. Any advice for a poet just starting out on their first chapbook?

    • Hi, Derek- Thanks for the compliment. I look forward to meeting you soon. My advice for a poet just starting out would be to go on Kickstarter and see if you can raise money for the chapbook. And, of course, that’s just what you’ve done. I think you can teach me a few things. Mostly, what I do is ignore marketing or complain about my lack of fame. Together, those two strategies add up to little. In fact, that and two dollars will get you a ride on a New York subway. I’ll contact you in an email very soon. All best– Lyn

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