Mary Beth Hines is a writer following a long career as a project manager. A Massachusetts native, and active participant in Boston-area workshops, her poetry has recently been published, or is forthcoming, in journals such as Crab Orchard Review, Gyroscope Review, the Lake, Literary Mama, and Sky Island Journal, among others.

A Child’s Play

Dawn, and the child creeps down the stairs
simmering stealth; drags, clambers up
a creaky chair, dips ten fingers
into Bridie’s cage, old glass tank, fishes
out the hair-less pups, three to a palm,
air-lifts them from the gerbilarium.

Her magic-carpet hands dizzy
in rise, sweep and plunge, circle, whirl
a ricochet, flag and pleat, guileless banshee,
she tips the newborns to the floor,
flicks them, whorled marbles, pale, moony.

Swim Meet

Lined up in our red
lycra suits, goggles taut
across skulls and tight
rubber caps, we shiver
in bodies shaved
smooth—even a hundredth
of a second matters.

Coach paces. Warm up
time is sacred and our star
breaststroker’s late.
She’s heaving in a stall—
hates to race the Boxers,
and today she must break
a minute twenty-eight
to make States.

The rest of us have learned
from our unsuccess
to savor the occasional first,
the burn off the blocks,
bodies cutting crimson
streaks through blue, the kick-
stroke-surge through the wake
of the winner’s churn.