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June-morning dew drops balance at the tip-tops of lush grass blades
after a Spring rain storm.
Slippery ball splattered with mud is
soon rolling and splashing through puddles as deep as
Moats in front of the goal
Cracked ground of hard-packed dirt flats
sun beating brutally down, draining our skin
as a defender’s perspiration smears across my summer-darkened arm,
cleats tearing up grass like a sprinting bulldozer,
and I’m gone, sliding past like a fast-footed thief.
Fall air crisp as an apple, bringing chilly hints of winter
At early Saturday morning games.
Parents and fans huddle under old sweatshirts and
Blankets, sipping coffee and cocoa, fingers wrapped
In gloves around mugs.
Late afternoon high-school team practice, sun shining
Like Indian summer, soaking up fresh air that barely belongs to us
Escape from stuffy halls, lined paper, plaid and pleated skirts.
Stretching out while the boys team scrimmages, giggle
And wave at the midfield stud while I show off my splits…
Soon I’m running hard, running drills and laps like a sprinter from Kenya…
Away from demons or towards a finish line?
Depends on the day, season, time, temperature,
atmospheric pressure in my head.
Every afternoon, I love those long socks slipping up smooth, toned calves,
Love those worn-out cleats that hug my running feet,
Travel every step with me.
But tonight, rain is dripping and rippling like tears
Smeared down the grimy bus windowpane
We’ve been beaten.
Replaying last moments of a crucial game underneath
When we play so hard though it won’t matter,
Our minutes are up.
So I imagine fading fall sunlight from weeks before,
someone is still shooting, still on that
And the lights come on, to Illuminate the night
Neon green grass blades pricking at electrified feet.
Play on, and on, and on.