A Pack of Cards
by Carol Ann Duffy
First you must bet on the colour, black or red.
You can wager your lips. He shuffles the pack
like this. You choose a card. It’s black, see.
Give him a kiss.
Now you must guess the suit,
clubs or spades, diamonds or hearts. If you’re calling
a spade a spade you can wager your hand. Hearts.
Put on his ring.
Queen or King? Ace or Jack?
Four of them each, two red, two black, you choose.
You can wager your clothes. Wrong again, it’s a knave.
Take off your shoes.
Let him deal you a hand, one
in the hole, four on the baize, wager your wedding day
then raise. Full House. He’s got four of a kind.
Here comes the Bride.
Who did you wed? Watch his hands
as he plays. No diamonds or hearts for you. You married him,
the King of Spades, le roi. What do you think he’s digging?
Is it a grave?
Pick a card, any colour, red for blood
or black for the mud in a deep dark hole in the ground. Wager
your heart and your soul and your life, little wife, little wife.
He’ll raise you again.
CAROL ANN DUFFY