growing up, it wasn’t a gathering
unless the rook cards came out
and even though time has changed
the rules remain

I remember desparately wanting to belong
to stay up past my bedtime, fight tired eyes
and play, with the picture of my father as
a perfect partner, aggressive bidder
who always figured out a way to win

to look back now is to distinctly remember the difference
of playing at playing
versus now to know all I know
that I did not know was unknown

to look back now is to feel the clamoring for
the card to beat all cards,
innocent of the nuance of leverage or
relativity or of working with a partner instead of going alone

if only life was just a game of cards

or maybe it is and
I still don’t understand the rules