At Basketball


Basketball stands for war or battle.
That's why I think about the players'
personalities, in my foxhole or squad.
Danny and Ben are fast and smart. Dan
especially can pass making him master
and commander. To defeat them as we did
is very satisfying. Ben's five year old son
is intelligent but distant. Disdains to answer
my question Why are you you?
                                                But I'm not here
to catalogue the men's personalities.
I like them. But each of us has moved on
many times, when _______ suddenly died
the games went on with hardly a mention
and his name has since been forgotten.

But even this, absolute mortality
of not just our bodies but our names
and souls is not what I came
to talk about. Yesterday, between games,
I asked Joe how Molly his daughter likes
the high school. He mounted an impassioned
defense of reading as the indispensable skill
when I suggested math, the scientific method
and history are essential too.
                                            Also between games
Bob diffidently asked why my kids are bald.
I was moved by the care he took to satisfy
his curiosity, concerned the subject might be
difficult. He's a political science teacher so
I took the opportunity to ask What ails
the republic? Of course I answered myself
wanting mostly to hear myself talk about Iraq
and how empire is self-correcting. For once I was amusing
I thought, treating the subject with a light touch
heretofore lacking.

But none of this is what I came to say.
A new guy, very big and strong, a
bulldozer under the boards with a good
outside shot if needed got into a dispute
with the other Bob who likes to tell people
what to do sometimes, about an offensive
foul Bob called which we almost never do.
The new guy said If you can't take it don't
play under the boards which is what I say
when I'm pissed and don't give a shit.
Bob said You've been pushing and shoving me
all day. I said He doesn't want to be
pushed and shoved which got a wry
smile out of Danny as I put the ball in play.


Copyright 2007 by Robert Ronnow.