Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Four of Cups

The first time, I shoved the ball toward the hoop
with all my might, missing by two or three feet.
The second time, the ball hovered on the rim
and dropped in. My brother punched me in the arm

as my father cheered. I dashed into the house
to tell my uncle I had made a basket. On TV,
a cross-legged man in an orange robe was on fire,
motionless as traffic swirled around him. Sobbing,

I flung myself outside. “Why would a man
light himself on fire?” I bleated. My uncle
stepped into the doorway: “The boy just needs
to get used to it.” (My Dad told me later

that in WWII my uncle’s plane was shot down 
and that my uncle was still having nightmares
about it.) My brother kept bouncing the ball.
My Dad put his arm around me for a moment,

then sauntered over to my uncle to ask
what had happened. Soon they went inside.
I paced the driveway for awhile, then grabbed
the ball, shooting again and again until I made it in.

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