“Outside Modern Myths: Waiting in the Car While the Teens Battle on Game Night” by Rebecca Olander
My son and his geek friends are beautiful, with their Magic cards
and D10 dice, their plastic-sheathed comic books and revelry
in their own stink in the backwoods of gaming stores, huddled
around tables like Tolkien’s fellowship round a fire.
Sometimes, they role-play in forests, becoming weekend healers,
totem animals the raven, the hare, or warriors, attempting beards
and clanking medieval weaponry, all cloaks and flasks,
all lamb-on-a-spit and flower remedies. Some gamers aren’t even
adolescent. There’s green-velvet-skirt-and-leather-headband woman,
and the man at the counter with his golden snake choker and hobbit hair.
I almost wish I could inhabit a cunning dwarf or a high priestess,
not find it silly to speak in grand terms, to fight for love.
Instead, I sidelong glance in the rearview mirror, arrange my hair,
suck in my stomach, second-guess my words. How refreshing
it would be to sink teeth into a leg of mutton, to wear wings,
to call myself another name, Morgana, Ethereal, or Storm Cloud,
and have someone – maybe he’d wear a maille breastplate, or strap
his sandals three times around his shins – call me heart’s delight,
feed me marzipan, mount a steed by my side. We’d weave each other
tansy and goldenrod crowns, drape the kingdom we created
with starlight, deer antlers, coniferous red-berried boughs.
Dangerous to unmake the known world, though, house of cards
that it is, yet just once I’d like to let the weight of self drop,
puddled cloak at my feet, and play by calling out the rules as I go.
Share your response to this work, in any form, here
Rebecca Hart Olander’s Artist Statement:
Rebecca Hart Olander’s poetry has appeared recently in Jet Fuel Review, The Massachusetts Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and elsewhere, and her collaborative visual and written work has been published in multiple venues online and in They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press, 2018). Her books include a chapbook, Dressing the Wounds (dancing girl press, 2019), and her debut full-length collection, Uncertain Acrobats (CavanKerry Press, 2021), which was named a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award. Rebecca teaches writing at Westfield State University and Amherst College and works with poets in the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Wilkes University. She is the editor/director of Perugia Press. Find her online at rebeccahartolander.com or @rholanderpoet.