When she played “Old Maid,”
she realized that no one wanted to be one,
yet never questioned why
there was never an “Old Bachelor” game.
When she played “Perfection,”
she realized that speed and accuracy
was the winning combination to more than games.
When she played “Operation,”
she knew the world would be better off
if she wasn’t a surgeon.
When she played “Checkers,”
she realized that once she mastered something,
she lost interest in it.
When she played “Clue,”
she realized how much she loved
figuring things out.
When she played “Scrabble,”
she realized that dictionaries were friends
to the right people.
But when she played video games,
she realized how much she hated them.
Something for Everyone: Resecting at the Sunday Breakfast Table
Resection (noun): Surgery. The excision of all or part of an organ or tissue.
For the Swen family,
The Deseret Daily Dispatch was like a game of “Operation.”
There was the crossword for cross-eyed Aunt Luz,
who tended to scrabble when it came to Sudoku,
for her numbers were often puzzling.
Grandma Posy read the obituaries,
always saying she was going to be next.
Joey Bischoff, aged 12,
whose E.I. was higher than his I.Q.,
ate the Sports section & Wheaties for breakfast;
his Irish twin, Jackie Oh,
would read her horoscope with horror & fascination.
Janey Rebel, at 6,
much to her daddy’s chagrin,
liked making paper dolls out of the society pages,
or drawing moustaches on the women
& dresses on the men in the funnies.
Perusing the personals was Mrs. White, the maid,
who played matchmaker on herself.
Mr. Swen, the brooder of the brood—
the rooster of the roost—
treated the op-eds as an appetizer to the business section.
With a sniff,
he’d claim that all the opinions smelled
like the late Mrs. Swen’s cooking,
which she had let burn while she read Dear Libby
or Helen’s Household Hints—
advice she never took & hints she never got,
for her tombstone read:
Here lies Anna Fox Swen,
beloved mom & Mrs.,
who just wouldn’t listen.
Back in the nineties, when I was in high school, I participated in the spelling bees sponsored by Sandy Sansing (a local car dealer whose alliterative name I appreciated).
I remember when the bees were held at the Cordova Mall and one of the boys was asked how to spell ‘minstrel.’ I will never forget the gobsmacked look on his face.
When he asked the judges to use it in a sentence (i.e. a stalling tactic for when your mind goes blank), and he figured out they weren’t referring to ‘menstrual,’ it was like he’d been waiting to exhale.
I remember being given a booklet of words to study, which my dad would grill me on every night. He will always remember the word that tripped him up was chiaroscuro; ironically, I never learned to master that one (thank you, spellchecker).
I don’t remember what my waterloo was, but I realized that my proficiency in seven-letter (or fewer) words (my dad rarely beat me in Scrabble) would only get me so far.
Being more of a visual person (probably due to my unilateral hearing loss) made such an auditory activity more challenging, because I couldn’t write the word down and see if it “looked right.”
Even though I never went farther than Cordova Mall, I always had fun, and I realize it wasn’t because the bees themselves were so fun, but because of all the hours my dad and I spent together, playing what I think of now as the pre-games to the “Spelling Olympics.”
Scrabble & Sudoku
often got into word fights,
making it a numbers game,
but when they learned how
to relate to one another,
who confounded them both,
He wrote “How-To”,
she wrote “Who’s Who?”,
so she didn’t know how,
& he didn’t know who.
When Airhead met Egghead,
he put his yolk upon her,
& she whipped him into meringue.
Money was the only thing
that ever came between them:
he made not enough,
& she made too much.
They were two sides of a bad penny—
she was pigtails & ponytails,
he was an unwashed head
but together they weren’t worth
one red cent.
A tree in all its forms, do I love–
living trees that give us air to breathe,
food that fills and nourishes,
and cooling, soothing shade.
But a tree’s life can go on,
once it’s been hewn,
for it can take many forms—
items grand or picayune.
The paper on which I write my letters—
the desk on which I write.
The violin on which I play “Greensleeves”,
the piano on which my mother plays.
The hope chest in which I place my linens and silver,
the hutch in which my grandmother’s Wedgwood china I place.
The cutting board on which I serve fruit and cheese,
the wooden spoon which, as a youngster, served me well.
The blocks of letters my son plays with to stack and learn,
the Scrabble letters I use to craft and play.
The puzzles my daughter puts together with learning hands,
the rocking horse and chair my husband put together.
A tree, like that of the human family’s,
dies not because its branches have broken,
but lives on as something of beauty.