What harm then in a football game?
What harm November afternoon,
with grey, tumescent clouds perched low
on barren branch, one echoing other,
this awesome sea of hopeless sky,
that stark indictment of the season?
What harm then to ignore all this,
and pretend the progress of oblong ball
down and up the one hundred-yard field
inscribed with chalky one-yard lines
portends a future, possesses meaning,
amounts to something better?
The couch, complacent, complicit,
chips salty, cloying and crisp,
drinks, icy or warm, ideal
to honor this consoling escape.
Tomorrow is my daughter's birthday.
Nineteen years I have watched her grow
from seed to this resplendence.
I encouraged these resilient limbs,
I endured each moment of doubt,
hers and mine, and trembled in bed
that there was no escape,
that a lifetime would pass too quickly,
or two lifetimes, and a co-mingling of paths
and intentions might swallow me whole.
Pink baby, dark-haired and curious,
inflated, oblong, and soft
how I carried you round our dining room
tucked secure between bicep and hip,
stretched flat on my knotty forearm
facedown, round living room couch,
through kitchen, down hallway, up stairs,
in mock football hold, our progress
marked not in one-yard increments,
no, nothing so simple as that
nor even in years, though we liked
to pretend that those markers held meaning.
See, you were the escape, dear child,
nineteen and moved to another town,
you and not these football games,
these grey and yawning days,
these scrawny days of yearning.
Paul Kaufman's most recent publication credits include The Kerf, WordWrights Magazine, Poetry Motel, The White Pelican Review, and The Montague Reporter. A portion of his most recent novel, The Interlocutor's Tale, can be read at www.whyitsgreat.com.