Night Games

by Susan Firer

In the early 50's shoe stores,
after you put on the new ones,
you went over to the machine
& put your feet into the mouse-
hole shaped foot holes & looked
into Flash Gordon viewer on top
of the juke-box sized machine you
were pressed against.  And you could see
through the stiff leather,  through
the shoes, through your socks.
It was spectacular, Superman
X-ray vision in a shoe store. 
And I always wanted to rip the viewer 
from its downward glance.  Why
look at feet?  I wanted a shortcut
to the souls of those around me.  
I wanted to look into all their broken,
damaged hearts & stir the crayon soup
I imagined there, secret as the inside 
of my mother's silk-lined purse,
my father's fireproof lock up.

In the fall, after dinner, new school shoes
off, the wind carried bits of fire.
I'd wing my sister's artery blue 45's through
the sparked air.  "Teen Angel" whoosh.  Restless,
I'd  pretend blindness, limp maimed into the coming
dark, waiting for the others to finish dinner
& start the divining rod children's 
night games, which were our true teachers:
statue maker, blind man's bluff,  pickle,
hide `n' seek, 50 all scatter, ghosts 
in the grave yard.  There was a gold angel
holy water font on my bedroom wall,
right above the light switch.  Barefoot
at night, before we slept, we touched
the blessed water in the Sign Of The Cross
to our foreheads, hearts, and shoulders.

In the beautiful lost troubles of childhood-
cinema dreams, in those sparky, dusty beds,
people we loved and had already
lost:  war-lost uncles, cancer-lost aunts,
rocking chair dead grandmas, dead baby brothers,
and sweet pea cooking, car-killed neighbors, all
stopped by, bent over, and kissed our holy
water touched foreheads and hearts.
They came smelling like the inside of lit October,
like just blown out orange candles.
In winter red birds flew into our house
through one of the three, small, round holes cut
into the bottom of each of our houses' storm windows.
We never shut the storm windows' wooden
slats.  We liked the excitement and mystery
of housed, winter-berry-red lost birds.

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The Blue Moon Review, All Rights Reserved.