Lane ViolationJo Angela Edwins
How many days I would sit in a cushioned
chair, teasing lines into the loose cloth
of a poem. Outside, the thrumming rhythms
of a boy’s basketball stitched their way
into the warp and weave of words.
A blessing, sometimes. Sometimes, a curse,
and then I would snap the notebook shut,
move on to mindless chores.
Never once did I rush to the doorway,
scream at the street in some rough trochee
of that leather bounce, convince the bored kid
I was mad, or merely old.
What a surprise when I saw him one day—
alone, his loose head bobbing, his steps slow,
his ball the colors of an American flag
dropping and rising in that still steady rhythm.
I drove past him slowly, on my way out of town.
Tonight, in the dark of a late autumn evening,
I turn down a different street to get home.
On a corner boys aim their lanky arms
at a hoop tacked into a tree,
a hoop in the dusk I can’t see.
They step to the sidewalk the closer
my car comes to their tight island,
its in-between world. Of a sudden
there flies in my path the striped ball,
the boy behind it. For an instant the planet
rolls loose as an acorn on the asphalt.
I tumble from the car. Behind me, the boy wails
but stands still, his hands gripping the flattened ball.
Seconds pass. No one around us speaks a word.
High above us, stars glisten across America.
We can’t see them for the wide hands of the trees.