Jumping to that instinctive run back
before the ball was too clear and lost
in the air overhead,
just the practiced ear alert
to the distance of the cracking wrist,
speeding foot and memory to the furthest alley
between the walls,
where having been there before
and never having been there now
seamed the sky with the outcome of a rally
that fell into my hands or through them
(too late to hide the talent of my legs
like others who could have trudged
as veterans deserving their sands),
I arrived in the stomach of shadows
crossed Gothically three times
like rival stabs,
the arcs that had carried me blotted out,
panicking to have strangers watching,
probably screaming to help, possibly to jeer,
but uniting their voices in the same façade
as my dark footing –
no pointed pennant by which to see.
Faster and deeper,
past the reason of foreign strengths
into the resources of my own belted skill,
those overladen reflections
propelled me as one more heedless keeper
of the flights the centuries stored as waste.
The run was a twilight, a gauntlet
of rolled up, hardened hide,
but obscured now as being too settling
for the rookie reaching for the man in haste.
No bells jarred that steepled dimness:
No tolling failures, no clanging thrills.
Just the clatter of empty bottles
and the plodding of a milkman’s horse.
In harness, we never looked up
beyond the spires
as I followed him with my gloved hand out,
sensing a jerk from the spasms of a game
and, behind the scrim of coming dawn, the pulls
of one ancestry as dormant as another –
the only possible return
that to a tradeable team