Doing Sudoku on September 11, 2016
(Muriel’s 18th Birthday)
Confusion hadn’t yet released its poisons
when I pushed like a champ.
Now, in Ohio, battleground state, you canvas and prepare to vote. Increase the numbers!
I play with numbers that never crease. Nor cease.
If this is six, this must be two, pretends the grid. If you’re in one place, you can’t be in another.
If you are eighteen,
it was your first day of nursery school.
Another mom said “Now you’ll all know how Israel feels”
and I seized my right hand with my left so I wouldn’t slap her.
Did I give
like I might have,
Numbers need little giving, less thought.
Fight quickly, love, like a hot skyscraper.
The earth curves like a big girl. The curves decrease.
Numbers keep their shape. They last with nothing but wanting to.
Tne object of the game is to be a family sport. The object of a family is to self-destruct.
Mini-golf, like a family, creates its own entirely artificial world.
Mini-golf, like a family, trades in myths and legends.
In both, there is the illusion of individuality (club heights, ball colors) (contradiction, rebellion, separation).
Both are at their most intense in summer.
Money troubles tend to disrupt each. The mini-golf boom of early 20th century came to an end during the economic depression in the late 1930s.
Mini-golf and families are for those who wish the past different.
Mini-golf was invented in the United States, as was my family.
The object of the United States is to self-destruct. Can I prevent it with my pink putter and orange ball, driving into the artificial sandtrap. or farther,
far into the myth of the unblemished (bloody) summer?
Kathleen Ossip is the author of The Do-Over, a New York Times Editors’ Choice; The Cold War, which was one of Publishers Weekly’s best books of 2011; The Search Engine, which was selected by Derek Walcott for the American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize; and Cinephrastics, a chapbook of movie poems. She is a 2016-2017 Racliffe Fellow and the co-editor of the poetry review website SCOUT (scoutpoetry.com).