Reprieve - Claire Scott

for my son

As a kid when I had a nickel I always chose Life Savers
longer lasting than Hershey bars or Charleston Chews
I could stretch time when I sucked on a Life Saver
tucking it in my cheek or under my tongue
if there were two pineapples in the pack
I knew Miss Stevens wouldn’t call on me
and Brenna would say I was her best friend

Want to play backgammon? he asked
limping badly as he came into the room
his body torqued and twisted, curled over a cane
he had found the game on a shelf piled with games for grandkids
I said I had long forgotten how to play
he would teach me he said
he was an expert he said grinning  ̶  this man in chronic pain
living from pill to pill  ̶  wanted to play
two of the white “men” were missing, so we added pennies
and we played, raucously accusing each other of cheating
laughing at my terrible moves, my lack of strategy
my moving his “men” instead of mine
occasionally he helped me to provide at least some challenge
at one point he said he had never seen so many
“men” (my “men” of course) trapped in their back court
for sure a world record!
but I won the first game, rolling doubles after doubles
we laughed at my luck, I crowed victory
then he won the next four in a row
the champion of the world he whooped
I smiled as I folded the board
the taste of pineapple on my tongue

Claire Scott is an award winning poet who has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize (2013 and 2014).  She was a semi-finalist for both the 2014 Pangaea Prize and the 2014 Atlantis Award. Her first book of poetry, Waiting to be Called, was recently published by IF SF Publishing.  Claire is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Berkeley, CA.  She lives with her husband in Oakland, CA and has two children, two children by marriage and five grandchildren.  All of which keep her wonderfully busy!