The World Cup is close
and someone asked me to
write a poem about soccer.
This is as close to the game
as I’ve ever come:
a girl kissed me in the center circle
of the campus soccer field,
thirteen minutes after midnight,
under a rainy summer sky
in my sophomore year,
and for the minutes
and seconds of that kiss
the world became a rush and a roar
as if there were
ten thousand flashbulbs
alive in my veins
and my heart couldn’t beat any faster
even if she’d asked it to.
she walked away
to let someone else hold her
and I learned what every
player on the field learns:
the World Cup is yours
and then it is not.
Like the taste of wind escaping my hands.
Like tea gone cold, too steeped, unsipped.
Like letters, writ large upon a wall, such that
they can be read only one at a time
and the complete word never grasped.
Like time-travel science, sabotaged by itself
and terminated before it could learn its own extended secret.
Like a fat cat’s dream of gazelle in savanna grass,
interrupted by the creak of a tuna can lid opening.
Like graffiti on train cars, constrained to tracks,
observed and forgotten at the momentary
crossing of paths, but remembered,
perhaps with regret, by its artist.
Turn my tongue to ash.
Stuff my mouth with garlic.
Break my fingers
Bind my hands,
Stitch my eyes
Bury me under the thousand stones
of ruined Babel.
It makes no difference.
I am ever so far from you.