Jean L. Kreiling: Games My Family Plays

Gin Rummy Meld, Clubs J Q, K

One sibling brings the Pinot Noir, another brings the pie,
two cook, one sets the table—we’re a team.
When later we do dishes (one to wash and one to dry),
cooperation rules, so it would seem.

Despite our childhood bickering, we like each other now,
and we no longer call each other names
or pull each other’s hair; in fact, it’s quite amazing how
we get along—until it’s time for games.

In Scrabble, someone never gets the Z, so he insists;
in poker, someone always cries “Misdeal!”
When we attempt charades, we’re less teammates than anarchists,
and we play Clue with homicidal zeal.

We hotly vie for every point, as if our lives depended
on triple words or aces over threes;
we gloat, we groan, and some of us get grumpy, or offended
by shouts of “Gin!” and worse indignities.

We laugh more than we argue, and we have a lot of fun,
and we pretend there’s no real competition—
but someone’s wondering if someone else has had work done,
and someone else is hiding her suspicion

that someone else has gained a pound or two, or maybe twenty,
and most agree that someone’s hair looks brassy,
and someone else is confident that she could teach us plenty,
and wishes that her family were more classy.

We keep a few things to ourselves and tell a few white lies;
we keep the peace, and leave the rivalry
at tables where regrets are few and where appraising eyes
judge only bad deals in Monopoly.

Gin rummy Meld 3 cards J, Q, K from Russian pack