The Card-Box

by Kate Noakes

It was lead, that was probably pewter,
a coffer for cigarettes: tipped, untipped,
but where my No Smoking parents treasured
bridge cards, painted with Botticelli maidens:
Venus, another, somehow untouched,
even by their friends: no wild shuffling please.
For our whist there were everyday red
and blue packs that spilled from their boxes
in the kitchen drawer, shifting with staples
and crayon stubs, except when Bampa came
with his dice and pipe, and we pontooned
under the sun-shade, betting with Swan Vestas.
For him there was no ‘best’, so he taught me
to order the gilt-edged deck with my thumbs.