Too small by half
for this schoolyard crowd.
Yet, with that diffident stare,
he toughs his way into a game.
Pushing the ball up court,
fast feet, faster hands,
his faded green jersey
weaves through the D,
stutter-steps, fakes right, spins left,
whirls three-hundred-sixty blurred
into the air, the leather sphere
lifted high on fingertips -
and for the instant
he hovers in the air, I see him:
high school, license, first girl, first
black-tuxed and skittish at the altar,
standing beside his anxious bride,
a father, a father again,
night shift at the G.E. plant and
a grandpa, gray-haired, hunching
clenched hands, a game of catch
with his first son's first son.
He sends the ball spinning like a
wavering along the steel rim,
perfectly still for a second,
and then Yes! sweet, it slips in.
The green boy trots up court,
nonchalance, confidence, a high-five
from a teammate, laughter, dares.
Even after I've gone,
the bounced-ball, heartbeat,
follows me everywhere.