Your form looks seasoned

from the endline.

Your streaks faded

where winter has fouled you, 

squeezed and stretched your leather,

tugged at your jersey

while the rest of us 

spent halftime behind a closed garage. 


Benched, you inhaled and held for a season, 

retired by the base of the hoop.


You wheeze a sluggish breath, 

air leaving you in whistles.

Neglectful months 

have rendered you unfit.


Can you lift from the sideline? 

Train the draft from your core? 

Polish court grime from the 

creases of your rubber, 

repaint your patterns

and roll into hands worthy of traveling? 


           Sneakers squeak near you,

           toe the boundary line—

           an afternoon dribble before 

           it gets too hot to play

           with shoes on.


           See, the way your shadow 

           stretches across the court, 

           taut, perfectly whole.