One Games

Robert_bio_photo_1___version_3__1_by Robert L. Ferrier15 Sep 2014

He stood alone in the library
his tousled red hair topping freckles
sweatshirt, jeans and Nikes
said his mom was over in Fiction.

We stared at an empty podium
wearing a fancy banner
“Poetry winners announced at 2:00.”

“What did you enter?” he asked
blue eyes engaging a stranger
eyeing Robert Frost in my hands
and staring too long at the age spots.

“‘The Violin Maker,’” I answered.
“Lives with his materials and cats.”
“Alone in the boonies?” he asked.
“You’re never alone with cats.
And what did you enter?” I asked.

“A poem, ‘One Games,’” he said,
“football at the curb of the street.
I drop a jacks ball and watch it ‘run.’

Cracks in the concrete make it juke
slope of the street gives it speed.”
I thought about that for a while.
“So who or what makes the tackle?”

“Holes in the street or the curb.
I measure a yard in my mind.
(That’s for the first and ten.)
For passes I bounce it backward.

It’s complete if it rolls back down.”
He stared at the toes of his Nikes.
“I’m still working on punts and penalties.”
“What about ‘delay of game’?” I joked.

“I wait out cars and cuss the rain.
No traction in puddles or mud.”
“Your mom ever call off the game?”
“Only when it’s wet and cold.”

I saw action up front at the podium
yet chose to seize the moment.
“You ready to play someone else?
“My granddaughter’s jacks ball is blue.”

“Mine’s red,” he said, staring up
amber flecks in his eyes
freckles flaring, skin flushed
jamming his hands in his jeans.

“Try punts with high back bounces,” I said.
“Good way to change possessions.”
“And we could tackle,” he answered.
“Shoot another ball like marbles!”

The mike lady cleared her throat
on behalf of the impatient crowd.
I leaned down and whispered a challenge:

“If I win this I receive the kickoff.”