The Game

On low-lying ground the children started a game
With the vaguest of rules but a very clear aim.
The object was simply to find the way home,
So with a bagful of clues they set off to roam.

Maria was told to turn left at the crest;
But Becca’s instructions said right would be best.
Annie was told to proceed with no other,
But to Edward was said, “Stay close to your sisters and brother.”
To Leon the hint was to study, be smart;
But Remy was commanded to follow her heart.

Perplexing indeed, this disorderly direction!
No two clues had a clear-cut connection.
As the land grew steeper
Their confusion grew deeper;
The excitement of setting out
Had decayed into doubt.

Maria and Becca stood frozen for fear of an error,
While for Annie and Edward, stillness filled them with terror.
Leon suggested perhaps they turn back,
But Remy insisted they continue the attack.

These cryptic clues and various views
Made a strategy indeed quite difficult to choose.
Even worse was the question heavy on each heart:
If home is the end, then where did we start?

The game thus continued, but no one could say
If they were nowhere, or nearer, or farther away.
Leon said in frustration, “We have the wrong tools!”
Remy agreed, “Who drafted these rules?”

They needed quite badly advice authoritative;
Annie suggested a knowledgeable native.
“The task before us is truly enormous.
“Let us seek out a sage to correctly inform us.”

So they scoured the rolling countryside
Looking this way and that, up, down, and wide.
“Somewhere,” said Edward, “The answer must be,
“We must search ’til we find it, then be sure to see.”

As they came at last to a grand, green valley
Their flagging spirits began to rally.
Alongside the river running rapid and deep,
They played into the night and then drifted to sleep.

Becca was the first in the morning to rise,
To find upon her a curious surprise!
A ladybug making a perch of her arm,
Said, “Don’t worry, my dear, I mean you no harm.”

As the others admired this incredible creature.
Leon asked, “Please, can you find us our teacher?”
The ladybug smiled. “I’m the teacher you seek.
“Your home lies there, just beyond that peak.”

The party of players quickly set out,
Home’s elusive location no longer in doubt.
The climb before them was rocky and steep,
Their ascent continued for a month and a week.

The summit was heavy with clouds all around,
Revealing no discernible pathway down.
A wrong move now and the game would be lost,
A failure coming at most considerable cost.

Maria asked, “Where?”
Remy asked, “How?”
The ladybug pointed,
“Go this way now.”

Down and down through the mist they descended,
True to the path their guide had intended.
The going was tough but they knew that this trail
Would not and could not possibly fail.

Now reaching the lower and familiar ground
Not a speck of mist remained to be found.
With home now in sight, the ladybug departed.
They had arrived at last — Right where they’d started.

And into their mother’s arms they fell,
Peaceful and happy and altogether quite well.
The game was over, the game was won,
As behind the peak rose a new day’s sun.

(Artwork by the players.)