A child gambles in petroleum country

In Poetry by

The indigo amphora of night slowly fills with light.

Its sapphire body dawns through cobalt, 
to lapis, before the sky flattens into an azure 
plate that the sparrows crawl on like ants.

My favorite marble had the depth of predawn 
sky, from oceanic core to atmospheric edge 
of teal. The size of my eye, brought near, 
trails of tiny bubbles were revealed—yet 
smaller universes spun within its cool vista.

We children gambled with our marbles: 
Cats-eyes,    irised yellow and red,         chased
one     another      through 
                        the      asphalt      schoolyard. 

“Crystals” were the special prizes: clear like an ice
sphere, green or blue like a planet, a rare garnet red.
They would be the last out of a pocket and                  gone. 

I never played my blue marble, only took it out  
to look—instant azure joy. 

But as gamblers do, we played until all were 
cleaned out. All except for the bullies who could end 
any game by shouting, pockets full, and storming away. 

One day, my eyes told them I held back. So 
“Play it, play it!” they yelled
                                                                …  ..       .            .         .                        .                      .

Thus was 	my blue marble

           in a concrete and gravel   schoolyard   game.

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Copyright © 2021 Deb O’Rourke.
Image Credit: Composited by Katrina Archer from Depositphotos stock images and “The Blue Marble”, courtesy Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center.

Deb O'RourkeDeb O’Rourke’s prose appears in various cultural and journalistic publications, most notably in Toronto’s weekly, NOW Magazine. Her visual art can be seen at milkweedpatch.com Some of her work in democratic education is documented at michaelbarker.ca. Her poetry has appeared in the Banister and William Henry Drummond Contest anthologies, and placed second in The New Quarterly’s Occasional Poetry contest in 2016 and 2019. Born in Alberta of Canadian settler descent, she lives in Toronto.