The Game Stake
by Cristina-Monica Moldoveanu
Birds of prey gather round my belly button,
their sharp beaks push upwards between ribs.
I’m like a sparrow with torn wings:
a kite seized my heart and threw it away.
Neighbors’ children cry out
names of the games from my infancy —
head or tails —
my heart swirls like a spintop,
it can’t stay still recto or verso.
I remember how it was in the beginning:
stretching thin paper over the coin,
rubbing colored crayons onto it,
until the head appeared,
taking copper pieces, moistening them with spit,
sticking them to my forehead,
placing a coin on my notebook,
drawing circles around it,
rolling coins like wheels until they spun down...
raising small towers until they collapsed.
All these games cost less than a dime.
My chest is cold,
a round stethoscope presses over my heart,
beneath it a wing struggles to fly —
heads or tails.
I wonder what’s the price this time.
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