Thursday, April 30, 2009

Marble Weather

When it gets to this time of year, when it feels springlike and as if the schoolyards are drying out, I always think of it as marble weather. This was the much anticipated arrival of the opportunity to pull out our collections of cats-eye, creamy, crystal marbles, to contest over in our rows of avaricious kids sitting on the concrete in the playground. We'd strive to win some steelies (the kids with parents working at the plant who could slip them some large ballbearings were much envied) or some boulders; the currency of childhood. When I start to feel nostalgic for the days of Crown Royal bags bulging with our glistening glass jewels, I remind myself that even then there were capitalist tendencies at play. One classmate, not to be named here, was a charming rogue who convinced most everyone that putting all our marbles together would make us invincible; of course, as with stock options and dividends, he then made off with all of them before the cabal collapsed! Thankfully my skepticism is a long-standing characteristic, and I and my best friend had decided that our company of two was as big as we wanted to take our venture. We ended up being the only ones who had not lost our marbles. ;)

In any case, I came across this poem recently in the online archives of Arc Poetry Magazine, and it stirred up many memories. It's a lovely, sad poem with astonishing detail dovetailing with my own recollections, right down to the Crown Royal pouch to hold the treasures in.

I found your marbles in your
room tucked in the same blue velvet
Crown Royal bag, the gold rope of the cord
still securing your childhood.
I assure you, I opened the bag as if it were
holding all the secrets of your paleolithic world.
And the marbles rolled out—
each smooth round noise.
Small marbled pommels,
kept inside so long, barely remembering
your ten-year-old hands sizing them up.
How your own brown eye would squint down—
marvel the ophthalmic wonders.
But you were never so proud, your perfect
pale blue marble, lightning gold
running through it, its pain line
staying with you all your forty-four years.
So let me hold you my blue marble.
Let me warm you, finally, in my hands.


  1. marbles...I had no idea that there were poems about marbles...great find!

  2. Oh, how wonderful! And this says it perfectly. I suppose this is why I still have a bag of marbles stashed in a box, that I will never get rid of. Maybe securing my own childhood for myself, eh?

  3. This brought back memories! Everyone I knew had a Crown Royal bag. We recently had to clean out my in-laws place and I found an old bag of marbles. I washed them up and put them in an old glass milk jar in a window. They're so pretty when they catch the light.

  4. Serena - neither did I, but it was a serendipitious find!

    Phyl - my mother kept some of our marbles even through 4 moves over the past few years. Funny!

    Luanne - It's so weird how Crown Royal bags became the default marble holder! And what a great idea to put some marbles in a jar - I love suncatchers and that would be a beautiful one.

  5. I have such a Love-Hate relationship with the ARC-poetry people.
    I have submitted so many poems [at cost] only to see so many incomprehensible poems, win.... it is disheartening.
    I put their publications [sent to me because I paid the submission fee] in the laundry room, so that people who know nothing about good poetry can maybe pick it up and sheaf through it, as they gather up their laundry lint, from the filter.

  6. I loved playing marbles as a child, I always had a thing for the really odd coloured cat's eyes. It was a banned game at our school, which resulted in a continuous cycle of clandestine games, being sprung, have our marbles confiscated, being put on detention before rebuilding our collection and beginning all over again. Thanks for a lovely little trip down memory lane!

  7. cipriano - I hear you. But I love your poetry and would publish it if I had a magazine!

    antipodean owl - banned! way to make marbles even more enticing ;)


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