When it gets to this time of year, when it feels springlike and as if the schoolyards are drying out, I always think of it as marble weather. This was the much anticipated arrival of the opportunity to pull out our collections of cats-eye, creamy, crystal marbles, to contest over in our rows of avaricious kids sitting on the concrete in the playground. We'd strive to win some steelies (the kids with parents working at the plant who could slip them some large ballbearings were much envied) or some boulders; the currency of childhood. When I start to feel nostalgic for the days of Crown Royal bags bulging with our glistening glass jewels, I remind myself that even then there were capitalist tendencies at play. One classmate, not to be named here, was a charming rogue who convinced most everyone that putting all our marbles together would make us invincible; of course, as with stock options and dividends, he then made off with all of them before the cabal collapsed! Thankfully my skepticism is a long-standing characteristic, and I and my best friend had decided that our company of two was as big as we wanted to take our venture. We ended up being the only ones who had not lost our marbles. ;)
In any case, I came across this poem recently in the online archives of Arc Poetry Magazine, and it stirred up many memories. It's a lovely, sad poem with astonishing detail dovetailing with my own recollections, right down to the Crown Royal pouch to hold the treasures in.
I found your marbles in your
room tucked in the same blue velvet
Crown Royal bag, the gold rope of the cord
still securing your childhood.
I assure you, I opened the bag as if it were
holding all the secrets of your paleolithic world.
And the marbles rolled out—
each smooth round noise.
Small marbled pommels,
kept inside so long, barely remembering
your ten-year-old hands sizing them up.
How your own brown eye would squint down—
marvel the ophthalmic wonders.
But you were never so proud, your perfect
pale blue marble, lightning gold
running through it, its pain line
staying with you all your forty-four years.
So let me hold you my blue marble.
Let me warm you, finally, in my hands.