This is the most poetry reading I have done since my twenties. Poetry of my daughter. I couldn’t be prouder. This is another of her poems I loved.
Sure, they were singing; they always sang when the band pulled out old favorites.
Stinking jackets sticky with the hot lights of the field and face paint dripping down,
Screaming “Sweet Caroline” with all the tender finesse of a feral pack of racoons.
The thudding percussion, ringing loud through bared teeth and war cries
Pulled tight collars tighter to ward out any threat of wind,
Arms and tongues loose at every play and every call,
Voices sprinkling from above over the field before the game was even over,
Hot summer rain of what was meant to be support, but left a chill in the bones, a tickle in the throat —
It always felt brand new, every home game. Always felt like the suffocation was the fun of it,
That the ritual of limp hotdogs in starched yellow buns were some tradition to be maintained,
Long lines for shitty food and wolf packs on the prowl stalking the sidelines,
Side-eyeing the team and the pep parade held aloft by their short skirts and bright bows.
The sweat of the stands pooling below the bleachers, school spirit into school swamp,
Some cigarette ash could blow them all away, and it’s not like it hadn’t been tried, once.
Tired hands on a barrel, confetti in school colors stuffed tight into the chamber,
The press of familiar weight on slumped shoulders, a voice saying “Give it here, son,
“Don’t do something you can’t take back,” and a quiet release. But the drone of the announcer
Wails on, ambulance screams at every missed tackle, at the crushing force on a field of dreams.
Hopping back on matchstick legs for a shot at the victory sign at the end of the field,
Winging hope to heaven on high, recruiters silent, stone-faced, with his dad in the stands,
Chewing on fingernails and debt dethroned, a lump in his throat. Sleep scorned eyes
Seeking out ready arms, quick prayers, a Hail Mary, for an end to an already long night,
Shade cast over the firm set of his jaw, steady breathing, quick movements.
And a quiet, suddenly, a chill falling in sooner than he knew possible.
Lights off, stands empty, field ripped up and muddy. Sure, they sang when they knew the words.
When the band, electric and flowing, hazarded the first few aching notes.
The sun was a surprise, she mused.
Not unwelcome, for the chill it banished, but a surprise still