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The only rule:
keep the chain intact.
I didn’t know
in the grade school gym
it was a way to practice
meeting all that would try
to break us apart,
practice being bombarded,
practice calling in our fear.
Red Rover, Red Rover
let sickness come over.
Once it felt like a game.
Now—oh friend.
Hold on to my wrist.
I’ll hold on to yours.

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Playing Family

for Grace

I’m too grown up now to play family,

says the six-year-old girl. But I hear

in her voice that part of her

still loves the game.

I long to tell her that now,

at fifty, playing family is still

one of my favorites.

I’m less wild about the version

where I’m the mom telling the kid

no, they can’t get the toy they want.

But I like the game when I sit on the couch

and say to my son or daughter,

Hey, come snuggle in, and they do.

I like it when we stand around the kitchen counter

laughing at whatever we’re laughing at.

I like when we’re driving in the car

and I say, Hey, sweetie, how was your day?

Sometimes, I play dress up in my own clothes

and wear what a mother would wear.

I even make breakfasts and lunches

and hide the M&Ms.

And I laugh to hear my own voice say

what a mother might say:

Clean up your room, please.

Time for bed now. Now.

You have got to be kidding me.

I love you. Oh my, how you’ve grown.

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