My workplace insists on acronyms, the barely words,
the secret codes, short and sharp. I write vague sentences
and fill up slides with dry white text, I slip into my role
as if a script exists, as if I’ve been rehearsing
like when I was a child, playing house, changing nothing,
naming the others—Mammy, Daddy, Baby.
A four-year-old picks up a piece of cardboard importantly
and marches out to the field, saying I’m off to work,
she sits in the hedge and types the air, looking busy,
her seven-year-old wife gathers mud and sticks to brew soup,
as Baby (an unlikely six-year-old) crawls around in the dirt
breaking things. The game is set in motion.
The children take it seriously, possessed by their roles.
If someone rebels, they are ousted, the walls of the game close,
an untimely death is announced, a pretend funeral,
the rebel is left to kick stones listlessly across the yard
as Daddy bursts from the hedge, rushes past, sipping from a rusty cup,
saying, god, I need my coffee and Mammy, back by the pile of sticks,
stares up at the sky and says, I’d better take the clothes in.