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February 19, 2024

Scrabble, Off-the-Board

By Terry Petersen

When Dad played Scrabble with Mom
and his score plunged below hers,
suddenly his head ached.
He needed aspirin.

Mom recognized the drama in her mate.
She played her best anyway
until age and a congested heart
left the scrambled letters behind.

She died one Christmas.
Pain and grief invaded Dad's home.
He guarded his isolation
with a turtle-shell shield,

and sealed himself inside.
He came out for moments,
and talked about the bombs
he dismantled during World War II.

One error and the possibility
of family would have exploded.
I was his oldest daughter, yet
too naïve to understand. To grasp

more than story. Now,
years after Dad's death
if I could resurrect the past
I would open both ears,

hear as a senior citizen,
cry with him. I, too,
understand pain and loss
from the inside.

My grandchildren expect me
to play with them.
Real-life hurts remain
outside the imaginary scene.

I wait until sharing darkness
fits their lives
like a lost puzzle piece,
when it heals hearer and listener.

We build memories
made of swimming pools,
laughter, water color, and ice cream.
We play. I listen.

The kids soon discover
real-life games no one can win.
The right word appears as
sadness cloaked inside a pretend scene.

I join the children's world
for their sake. But also for mine.
To create through the years
a better combined score.

Article © Terry Petersen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2016-09-19
Image(s) © Terry Petersen. All rights reserved.
3 Reader Comments
Gerry Becker
05:02:20 PM
How true it is! Thanks Terry
Gerry Becker
05:02:51 PM
How true it is! Thanks Terry
02:58:50 AM
I have read this through 3 times. With each reading I find some new idea or food for thought. I love it. Great piece.
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