Game

Game

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.

— Laura Kasischke, author of The Infinitesimals

This poem is offered as part of our October theme: Games

T. S. Poetry

“Kasischke’s poems are powered by a skillful use of imagery and the subtle, ingenious way she turns a phrase.”—Austin American-Statesman

The Infinitesimals stares directly at illness and death, employing the same highly evocative and symbolic style that earned Laura Kasischke the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. Drawing upon her own experiences with cancer, and the lives and deaths of loved ones, Kasischke’s new work commands a lyrical and dark intensity.

Laura Kasischke is the author of eight collections of poetry and seven novels. She teaches at the University of Michigan and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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