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Game

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I thought we were playing a game
in a forest that day.
I ran as my mother chased me.

But she’d been stung by a bee.
Or bitten by a snake.
She shouted my name, which

even as a child I knew was not
“Stop. Please. I’m dying.”

I ran deeper
into the bright black trees
happily
as she chased me: How

lovely the little bits and pieces.
The fingernails, the teeth. Even
the bombed cathedrals
being built inside of me.

How sweet
the eye socket. The spine. The
curious, distant possibility that God
had given courage
to human beings
that we might
suffer a little longer.

And by the time

I was willing to admit that
all along
all along
I’d known it was no game

I was a grown woman, turning
back, too late.

Source: Poetry (October 2012)

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This poem originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

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Game

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