In your face, Ecclesiastes 12, play at the assisted living facility

Here’s how I wrote this poem. I am in the middle an inquiry on how people play and I was going anyway to visit a friend at an assisted living facility that has independent apartments, assisted studios, and a dementia unit. Some people think that there is a time limit on play — or that adult play is either a euphemism for sexual activities or a sign of “second childhood” which is not a a good thing (because most of us do not really believe, except in an extremely metaphorical way or an uber-theological way) what Jesus had to say about the kid-dom of God. So I asked several people I met and this is the “found poem,” as close to their words as possible, that shares my research …

This is the way I play,
says the woman on the bench —
I watch chipmunks, the blue heron and goldfish
till on the inside
I’m all scamper, stalk and glitter-swim.

This is the way I play,
says the man who forgets —
I lose at bingo because I’m laughing at a joke.
I get a strike in foam rubber bowling
only when someone reminds me
it’s not baseball.
I dance to swing band records
with my imaginary wife in my arms.

This is the way I play,
says the woman with hearing loss –
black mittens and soft snow.
The first one with twenty snowflakes
raise your hand.

This is the way I play,
says the man with cataracts –
hide and seek after garlic bread.

This is the way I play,
says the licensed nursing assistant –
I guess who won’t be able to sleep tonight —

perhaps I will get out the fuzzy dice,
perhaps I will listen to a sweet old story.

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