232. Saturday Morning: Mumbletypeg

Get James, and get out of
The house, Tom thought, can’t
Hardly breathe in here, with Riah
Saying nothing,
Pacing, sink to table.
“Hey, son–mumbletypeg?”
James’ face shone.
“Sure thing! Let’s go!”

Tom brought two pocket-knives.
“Let’s draw the circle, toss
For territory”–there were
Many ways to play.
James squirmed, though. “Well,
But–that kind’s not such fun.
Let’s do those tricks instead,
Where we take turns.
And you go first!”
A bribe. Tom felt a twinge
At James’ refusal–
But heck, he thought, I’ve
Grown accustomed now.
That boy’s got more ideas
Than hens got eggs.
“Okay.”

First trick, called The Front–
Knife on palm, blade pointing
Out, must somersault
When struck, and stick the ground.
They both succeeded.
Then, The Back–same trick,
Back of the hand. They
Practiced, spinning knives,
And stabbing dust.
At his turn, knife
Bouncing high, James tried
A comment: “Mama
Seems–het-up.”
It was his new
Man-to-man voice.
Thomas frowned.
“She’s resting,” he said.
James seemed not to hear.

Next, The Punch–knife
Lay on fisted palm, tip
Toward the thumb.
Tom flipped his hand.
The blade bit ground–
“Good shot!”
James followed suit.
Then, The Pennies–thumb,
Forefinger held the blade
Turned toward the chest.
James flipped–the knife hit
Dirt–the blade stuck fast.

James retrieved, watching
Squint-eyed–looking
Just like his dad–as Tom
Prepared to toss. “Dad, reckon
There’s no way
For us to help her friend?”
Tom lost his turn–knife
Skidded to the ground.
That James should think of
This! How his mind ran!
Tom searched for answers–
How could he explain….
Worse yet, for one split-second,
Tom could see it
As James saw: Ma’s
Unhappy, friend’s unhappy,
Help–“It’s not that simple,
James,” he said severely.
James said, “Oh.”

The Snaps–knife held in
Left hand, hit the handle
With the right. Hung in
Mid-air, the blade
Skimmed forward.
Twice they tumbled,
Son’s and father’s.
Neither scored.

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