No one plays marbles. I think we’re losing them. My mother’s brothers, between World Wars,
gambled on their shots in a man’s game. By the 60s we kept them for their psychedelic swirls
but had lost the rules of play. The marbles that remain aren’t marbles. Manufactured imposters,
plastic or glass, uniform size and shade, they inhabit floral arrangements, aquariums.
The marbles that were–evolutionary marvels–veined fusions of water and heat and rock
and time enduring, each its own swirling planet of color, a feathered blend glass can’t match.
Take three old ones, found in a drawer. Roll these Roman toys in your palm and hear them clack.
Put them in your pocket. Which rolls now between forefinger and thumb? Is it the green one,
a milky ocean wave, churned up at dawn? Is it the plug of sunset, dark at the edge,
nicked, but not cracked? Is it the tri-color cat’s eye: chalky ball, grey- browed, violet- irised?
Spill them hand to hand–were they once cherished by some child? Cock one in a thumb,
the way your thumb, that never flicked a shooter, an alley, a flint or a cloudie, still knows to do.