Rusty haired child standing elbows on knees, peeking through a veil of suspense. His game was this morning. He knows the rush of success and the hollowness of misstep. He watches, tongue pinioned, fingers splayed on the floor. The bumps of his child frame show through his own game shirt, smeared with dirt from an afternoon in the yard. His breath hisses and squeaks in time with the squeaks of the blue shoes. He is held safely between the knees and arms of his dad who leans over him in paired tension. Two strings tuned to different octaves.
He is safe now--his world bounded by the shot clock and a tied score. We can keep him safe tonight. We can hold him, and after the horn sounds he will climb the ladder to his bed and dream of basketball and knights. Right now I can't bear to look farther.
Someone else's boy reaches up and, impossibly, the ball zips through the net with a satisfying thwip.
Elastic body unfolds in an arc of triumph, both hands fisted in the air. A moment of connection. A moment of boyhood. A moment I want to remember.