Various and Sundry Poetry

freethrow

here I am
coming home from a loss,
the semifinal basketball game
that could have been a sweet victory
had the final seconds played out differently.
we'd been ahead for most of it,
plunking down the key rebounds,
and these funky shots which somehow
wound their way in. yes it may have been luck
and it could have been skill, save
our poor showing on the freethrow line which,
in the end, probably cost us the game.

-

this could be a poem about underwhelming
shooting percentages and the reliable left-
hand hook of mine which, for once,
didn't cooperate. I could grouse about that, or
about the way my tummy hurt from eating too soon
before the game even started,
a full meal that should have waited,
and so maybe it was my fault we lost,
(though I wouldn't be so presumptuous). Or I could
go on about unfairness and what I believed in my heart
we had earned, a season of showing
up and working together and blah blah blah.
I could plea in this poem for something
better next time, or talk about lost chances
and bitter ends and why nothing's fair even when
you want it badly enough.

but what I want to tell you is this:

how long those last seconds were,
a beautiful ache of time,
as if God were gently pushing thumbs on a clock's hands,
slowing down the spinning earth
just for us, just here, in the fertile air
of the gym on a Tuesday night,
our hightopped feet all planted on the same parquet floor
and what a gift that was
time slowing down
feet planted on the same floor
and the lungs working
and all eyes on the ball.
and something about the gym, too,
the safety there,
this reprieve from everything else that wasn't safe,
which barely needs mentioning but
there was luck there, too,
for the reprieve,
even as the seconds dwindled and there was no
miracle three-pointer at the buzzer
and we went home without the trophy.
luck in those final moments, I felt it,
the strange sensation of hope
passing through on its way
to somewhere else.