Asphalt schoolyard, macadam particle marks in our backs
As we performed abdominals to the bassy bass thump of “Let it Bleed.”
We bled even more than the girls, my mother told me one night,
having me hold still beneath the kitchen light, tweezers just a bit shaky.
Once coach plucked the New Yorker fiction issue from beneath me,
tar chunks impaling John Cheever, and he looked at me ambiguously.
All of us ran more laps that day, spurred by the repeated demand
that we “stamp it hard” on the thick smart words of Pauline Kael,
John Updike, and Octavio Paz, repeated spondees to count the laps.
Coach called over his head javelin man to throw the team’s mitts
at my purple stumbling Keds.
Years later, on a ventilator, his third wife at his side, barred from smoking
in the cancer ward, that same coach cried real tears, some of his last,
when hearing that Don Drysdale had died.
On his body was found the tape of Bobby Kennedy’s last speech,
expressing his “high regard to Don Drysdale for his six great shutouts.”
My high regard … my high regard. Nobody talks like that anymore;
“If only Bobby had lived,” Coach said, startling his family.
The present tense was too much for him.