by J. J. Redick
Each day we go about our business,
dribbling past each other, catching each other’s
passes or not, about to shoot or shooting.
All about us is bench. All about us is
bench and water, sweatshirt and pants, each
one of our teammates on the floor.
Someone is trying to taunt me somewhere,
with a pair of frothy beers inside them,
with yelling, taunts, slurs, voice.
A woman and her son call me a puss.
A farmer considers me a homosexual guy.
A coach says, Take off your warm-ups. Go in!
We cross court boundaries and lines that mark
the ability of some and not of others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.
I know there’s something better down the court.
I need to find a shot where I am safe.
I dribble to where I cannot yet see.
Praise song for the struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the cussing-me-out at courtside tables.
In today’s sharp sparkle, this arena air,
any shot can be made, any career comeback begun.
On the brink, on the rim, on the cusp.
Praise song for shooting an airball; that felt right.
(In case you don’t get J.J.’s inspiration, here you go.)