Smooth cool tiles
with Asian symbols
mysterious and alluring
beckoned me when I was eight years old.
I’d stand with my twin sister and
our friend MaryAnne
our eyes barely able to peer over the
oval wooden table.
We’d watch and listen while
MaryAnne’s mother Bernadette
and her aunts Jen and Bert
would play for hours
laughing, drinking, smoking
and snacking from glass dishes of
candy and nuts at their elbows.
The Mah jongg tiles tugged at my curiosity.
I’d stand mesmerized at the clicking sounds
as tiles were slid in trays or traded
creating jubilant cries of “Mah jongg!”
or “Oh no, I needed that!”
Finally, fifty-plus years from the time I watched with longing…
last night, it was my turn to sit at a table with three other women
to play this ancient game.
At first I watched, listened, and learned
as tiles were turned over one by one.
I heard about dots, bams, and craks
and became acquainted with
flowers, dragons and winds.
After watching four games I finally felt
my time had come.
With trepidation and anticipation
I was on my own
ready to take the voyage.
After my second real game
I was able to yell that wonderful cry
♦ ♦ ♦