playing jacks with laura


playing jacks with laura
To Laura J Young

there was a girl
about two years older than my sevenandahalf,
and her name was laura
and she taught me how to play jacks.

she used a golf ball, which was good, because
it had more bounce and truer bounce
than that red ball with a seam.

laura was always better than me,
always getting up to her tens
while i was still on my fives or so,
and then she’d get through piginapen
or doublebounce
while i was only up to my nines or so.

we also played chutes&ladders
or candyland
out of the charity of her kind soul,
for she had long outgrown those games.

she had a spool with four nails pounded partway
into one end, the nailheads forming a square,
and she could make an endless snake
of yarn or twine
come out of the other end
just by a kind of weaving.
i thought it was neat.
she taught me how to do it too.

our dads got mad at each other over something.
it might have been the mulberries our tree shed
in their yard,
which were sweetly yummy but awfully stainy,
or it might have been the way our dog liked to pee
on their pyracantha,
or maybe that we were supposed to be the first ones
to swim in the swimming pool we helped dig
and we ended up never swimming there at all.

it only matters because after that
laura and i never played any more.

more than fifty-one years later
i saw her name as a friend of a facebook friend,
another neighbor,
and now we’re friends again
though many miles apart.

she is a shepherd and a yarnwright
and a champion of the environment.
i find that delightful.

i will probably never see her again
since she lives in one of the carolinas,
but i do hope there is something to
the lifeflashingbeforeyoureyes notion,
because i would so love, however briefly,
to go back to
playing jacks with laura.


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