We stood, arms draped over shoulders,
Billy’s hand held like a tarot reader,
palm up, tracing patterns: down and out,
a quick slant. He looked at me, “You go long.”
We set our piston legs, the invisible line
between us and other boys eager to show
whatever it shows when bodies collide.
Billy’s voice released us, our feet stretching
for purchase, eyes pleading we could make the play.
The ball was a sudden bird, a yellow and blue spiral
across thunderclouds. I leaned my shoulders
into the wind, head angled back to watch
the ball descend, my palms cupped for an offereing,
the boys a peripheral blur, as if we were already
running away from each other. I laid out
for his Hail Mary and when the ball tipped
my fingers, tumbled out of reach
it was as unimportant as any other failure
and yet I still sometimes wake, thinking
of the way they turned, shoulders hung,
shaking their heads, as if I’d called the rain
that had slowly started to fall.
First appeared in Little Patuxent Review – Winter 2013