Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Galleywinter #38 - Tamara Madison


They’d be at it when I got up,
she and her aunt, crowing “Banko!”
the game’s “gotcha” term.
You have to be sharp to play this game.
Molly’s gone a quarter century,
Mom’s lived even longer. Now.
I have to remind her how many cards
go in the Banko pile, which ones
belong in the draw stack, and which
get dropped on the dead pile.
She remembers the color alternation bit,
how to thwart my advance by piling
cards on me. You may have the jack,
she tells me because she can’t reach.
The unusable cards pile up as we
pronounce each one dead. I notice
she doesn’t crow the term anymore.
When she runs out of cards
I remind her to turn over her dead pile;
you can always give cards a new life.

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook "The Belly Remembers" as well as two full-length volumes of poetry, "Wild Domestic" and "Moraine" (in which this poem appears), all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals in the U.S. and abroad, including Pearl, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Linnets Wings, The Writer's Almanac and others. She is thrilled to have recently retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school.

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