The Green Boy

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

degrees

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

car,

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

then,

a grandpa, gray-haired, hunching

over,

clenched hands, a game of catch

with his first son's first son.

He sends the ball spinning like a

top,

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.

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