Mahjongg

The aunts and uncles could play all night,
washing the tiles on felted tablecloth,

building them up— all those ivory facets
like yellowing teeth yanked loose from a velvet-

lined box. This, their own version of a great wall
that began perhaps in ennui, that ended in small

satisfactions or despair. Who played for change
or crisp stacks of larger bills? I never learned,

just like I never learned those card games
that mattered, perennially stuck with Old

Maid or Solitaire. I didn’t fan out and shuffle,
cut, and do it over. I was only the girl

who traveled from table to table, bringing hot
garlic peanuts from the kitchen, buckets

of ice for their drinks. I was too young,
really, to be noticed: good lesson for listening

and watching to click and click and waterfall,
hum of hands touching above the table and below.

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