Graveyard Chicken

    Graveyard Chicken

In Lemitar, New Mexico we boys played one
game to test one another’s bravery
in the dilapidated graveyard next
door to the school with its chipped,
hard to decipher tombstones and
leaning, wooden crosses.
A boy had to stick his arm down
into one of the gopher holes
inundating the graveyard’s mesquite
and tumble weed-adorned surface
because he had been “dared”
and of course one had to respond
to being dared or one faced the horrible
nomenclature of: chicken.

We played that game along with
marbles, jacks and horses—where
the girls were horses and the boys
were cowboys and had to capture
them—at the risk of being kicked in the chins.
We stuck our arms down into those graveyard
Holes until a boy, I can’t remember who
Said that something inside the hole:
gopher, ghost, a child’s wild imagination?
touched his hand. This led us to search
for other games that did not delve as deeply
into the mortal fears of a grade school child.

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