from THE FAMILY ALBUM
V. Our Father The Squash Player
"I followed him to the courts
just to carry his rackets
l wanted to play just like him.
I'd watch him warm up the ball
(that day he was playing Rich Kuszleski)
the gunshots off the front wall
the black ball rocketing to his forehand then to his backhand
deliberate steps to the ball like a big yawn
in the early morning; he woke early to prepare
my brown bag lunch and in big black marker wrote
my name drawing some funny cartoons of squash players.
And then one morning, he motioned me onto the court, take a racket
he seemed to say;
and I jumped as if it was my first big league at bat --
he gently closed the door behind me -- this is where I always wanted to be.
He showed me the grip, explained the bold red boundary lines,
looking never down on me but crouching to meet me eyes.
I can see him on the court where he is not
that gentle giant that moved freely within
the white walls which when he played he seemed made
the grand canyon there --
exhausted I measured his each step to my three
a tango on the court,
"you'll get better," he'd grin with his head slightly cocked to one side
"someday maybe even
take a game."
And then Thanksgiving '05
I beat him and never lost to him again --
until the time too ill to hit around with me
I left for Madrid and he died.
I didn't tell him what I should have told him
-- being on court with him
were the best moments of my life
"never go easy", he'd say,
it echoes now and again when I think
he is me"