Shigeru Miyamoto Goes Spelunking

Shigeru Miyamoto Goes Spelunking

with a line from an interview[1]


When you say you explored caves as a boy,
I think about the abandoned Sears catalogue homes
I grew up with: watching them rot, heavy with secrets.
What I’d give to go in that unreachable place.

Playing Zelda, seeing those doors on-screen
that resided on the other side of a wall—why
are there always so many walls? No matter
how many games I play there are always

impassable places. Disappearing places.
When McKenzie from down the street died
I told my dad I was biking to his house
to explore it & he didn’t stop me. I biked there

but couldn’t go inside: those ripped curtains
in the window, that sign on the back door
with drawing of a gun that read: If you’re here
today they’ll find your body here tomorrow.

I biked back home. If I was born a boy,
would I have gone inside? Or were there caves
in Sonobe that you were afraid of, too?
You say that going back home, someone has blocked

the entrances to your caves. Does that stop you
from going inside? I like to think I’ll go inside
the dilapidated houses I see off the side of the road
but instead I take pictures from my car & try

to rebuild them inside me. It’s not the same
as reaching your hand in a river & realizing
you’ve touched a fish but what else can you do
in this paved and partitioned world?


[1] from Master of Play by Nick Paumgarten (The New Yorker)



Age of the Empires Two, Age of the Kings: Loading

We were in the age of empires.

We lined up trebuchets next to drag race cars.

We could walk through trees, on top of hospitals, & knew where to swim to catch glitches.

We carried our worlds in our back pockets. They were holy items.

In the dark, we bent over them with flashlights, hoping for one more movement, one more glimpse—

We hovered around the computer, chanting the name of our world like an incantation: Age of the Empires 2, Age of the Kings loading. We loaded the kings into our bodies, invented our empires.

Underneath the stairs, we designed hover cars, theme parks, estates. We started our own businesses. Every Saturday, Aunt Sue made us chocolate milkshakes & spagettios. We lived in a pantry of poptarts & potato chips. We could be anything.

In the parking lot, we traded mythologies, & there were no books to verify anything different. We told stories & stories about the fish we caught, the men we shot, the civilizations we built in the back of the woods.

Once, we started digging a tunnel he said would go to the Annapolis mall. Every Saturday I dug while he drew & I believed him, I believed him until one week I came over & the tunnel was covered with a tarp. Uncle Tom said it got infested with rats & we never dug much after that.