Every time I lay them out I hear her.
“See? You were asking who
Would have the patience to
Do this by hand!” Near her,
My niece wonders at my patience.
And in the midst of the ritual
I wonder if she remembers that
It was called Patience for a reason.
Or used to be. Now we call it
Solitaire. A game you play
With yourself. Where it’s treason
To cheat, I hear Janis Ian
Say. I’ve never yet played it
Without “17” in my head. “Those
Of us with ravaged faces, lacking
In the social graces.” I’ve made it,
I think, this far, as I watch the game
Slowly and surely, go nowhere.
Identical backs turn up the same
Numbers in surprising ways. When
I win, I turn my reproachful gaze
On the bemused man, unaware
That he’s going to be hit with it again:
The lucky in love rule. “Who were
You thinking of? How come I won?”
Solitaire, I’m a diamond. Second to none.


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