“Every Person in This Town Loves Football”
Even the nuns come out
to watch the boys in their
gold and blue. Sister Marita,
Sister Anne, and some weeks
Sister Perpetua who still
uses the ruler on our outstretched
hands. Even the mills
get quiet and how
the new freeway subsides
for awhile so we almost
remember the fields
full of tobacco and fee
corn, the older kids
sent out to harvest alongside
those men who’d come up
from the South. It’s hard
on the hands my babysitter
told me and showed the small
cuts like netting placed over
the palm. She’d calm me
down when I woke or I’d come
downstairs to find her splayed
out on the couch, head thrown
back and Keith, our quarterback,
working above her. Everybody
loves that sound: all the breath
sucked ut of the town and just
as quickly it roars back in,
his arm tensed and stuttering
till he just lets go. From the arm,
from the start of the arc and now
over the heads of Beckett and Pulaski,
over the girls in their short short skirts
to the place where the blast furnace
meets the darkness. Who’s your daddy?
If he lived in this town he played
the game too and every girl
held his name in her mouth.
He wore dress shirts on game day
with a tie and his jersey
on top. He walked down the halls
smelling of Old Spice and chew.
Who could break a boy like that?
Who could grind his smallest bones
or show him the bars where men spill
out of their worn letter jackets.
Come Friday we’ll turn the lights on.
You’ll see us from everywhere.
Read The Rumpus Interview with Gabrielle Calvocoressi, the other half of our Original Combo.