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The End of Parallel Play

Declan is pedaling the train
calmly and safely across the gym
while, in the lone car, Isaac,
behind him, shuffles his feet along.
You could call it playing together:
how Isaac hops off the train
and offers Declan an invisible ticket
or else asks Declan to show one of his own.
Declan pauses. Does he take the ticket?
Should he push forward and leave behind
this much smaller boy who nonetheless demands
with a gesture and a few words
to be both the passenger and "the conductor man"?
Declan takes what is offered. He pretends to hold
the invisible ticket in his hand, as if looking at it,
then he faces ahead while Isaac
walks back to the back of the train
and instead of pushing forward alone
Declan waits until he feels the tug of weight
which is Isaac getting back into his seat
which is also the weight of something else
neither of them can yet understand
and then the two of them, together
push on, push on.

Mary Di Lucia

New Ohio Review

Fall 2013

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