Three PoemsKatie Darby Mullins
FIFTEEN FOOTBALL MINUTES
When I was a kid, I knew time
Moved slower on football fields
But even then, assumed it perception,
A failure on my part to understand
Space and time. Tonight while
I watch the second tick and stop
In a box at the bottom of the screen,
I pray for more time, the clock
To grind to a stop, for out-of-bounds
Or fast-spiked balls, a quarterback
Literally controlling the universe,
Bending physics to give themselves
Another shot to stay alive, to throw
Or run or kick into history, to hold
Not only the win in their hands,
(In our hands. The fans let moments
Sift through our fingers at the beginning
And then clutch our fists in solidarity
In the end) but to succeed, for a minute
At stretching life a little further, at
Driving toward hope between ten
Seconds and two.
IN APPRECIATION OF RICHARD SHERMAN
For years I’ve echoed you in triumph
—don’t try me with some sorry receiver—
because even at corner, your hands
were fast and your legs faster. I love
fire and poison combusting into joy
the way you play football like chess, angled,
defensive. Now you host Thursday games
and I watch more for your commentary
Than the game itself. The night the Broncos lost
your eyes, widened with anxiety and frustration
mimicked your words, “Learn from your mistakes!”
It’s been a hard time for all of us, Richard.
I have lost things I cannot count or explain,
even though my Cowboys are having
a winning season. Teammates and friends can be so
complicated: it was like for a moment, I dropped
back in the pocket to see the field
and there were no holes in the coverage
and instead of handing it off or getting rid of it
I allowed myself to be sacked for the loss.
Then I rewound. I watched your face, your hands shaking.
Learn from your mistakes. Come on, man.
Learn from your mistakes. Sometimes I need to learn
To let go before I take the hit. Let go.
Portrait of Ballet as a Fistfight
—it’s all beautiful lines, angle/control
The extension, the bowed back, the feet
Always bleeding into wooden blocks
Disfigured, lovely. When I was a girl
I was so flexible I could swallow
My own heart and still smile.
Ballet is camouflage for a woman
Like me, someone who can throw
A punch or stick a landing. I called
My sister today: she’s a kickboxer
And I needed to know if our genes
Are feral. She’s never hit someone in the wild.
Lace up the toe shoes and wait for extension:
This is how you count backward from ten.
This is how you watch a spot on the wall
In pirouette so you don’t get dizzy.
This is how you uncoil the tightness
(It lives electric in your fingers) and while
Your sister learns to protect herself
You dress in the soft hues of femininity
With ice in your paralyzed face, “relaxed,”
Blood rushing through your ears—
— first position.