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).