I wanted that yellow ball sitting
up high on the soft green clay for
me to drive it cross-court or
down the line, the other kid flat-
footed at the net, 40-
love.
And my racquets! The old
wood Jack Kramer Autograph in
its trapezoid frame tightened
with wing nuts, then
the new aluminum Head with
the blue and white nylon cover
I liked to smell. In the shop
the teenage boy's lean tan
hands wrapped the grip tight,
strung it with catgut. I
balanced it on my fingertip, I
bounced a ball on the edge
for fun. The counselor said
Hey Bobby, come look at this
as he fed my two-handed Chris
Evert-patented backhand, again,
again. Back home
alone I slapped the ball
against the garage, I aimed
for the doorknob. As she
watched through the window
did my mother see it
in me before I did? The
tentativeness, the
apartness. At tournaments
boys swirled around us as
they checked the draw and
then from the crowd
I can't believe that fag is winning until
I didn't want the ball anymore, it
wobbled toward me on the red
clay that day, the racquet
a dead thing in my hand. Oh
futility, to skulk to the wall
to hit a few in the true
twilight thinking don't
think, don't think, don't think.