Grad-student-poor, they keep to the afternoon’s plan, / free tickets to a
college basketball game. / It’s better this way: / 18,000 fans means no
silences to fill, / no talking over where crib, changing table, the glut / of toys
to come will go. It is too early for him to worry / over logistics; he is
thinking of how he’ll support them all. / He is thinking like a man /

They find their seats two rows behind a basket, / close
enough to hear grunts and sneaker-squeaks / as the young men cut and
weave along the court. / She whispers in his ear, / I didn’t know he was
this good
, pointing at one of her students on the team, / this moment of pride in
the young man good practice / for the future.

They enjoy the atmosphere,
the impromptu rendition of “Rocky Top” / the crowd erupts in after the
visitors / call timeout to slow the game, / to halt the home team’s crushing
momentum. / She sees a contest on the Jumbo-tron, takes her phone to text
the number and enter, / but he notices too / they’re now on the screen
hanging high over center-court, / the Kiss-Cam begging for one peck. / He
nudges her arm, tries to get her attention so he might / enjoy her lips, but
she stays buried in her task. / He tries again before the crowd turns / against
her, hisses circling the arena until the camera cuts / to another couple who
obliges quickly, / who wants no part of the same admonition. She asks why
there was such noise, and as he explains, / it’s as if she wants to curl herself /
back into her own mother’s womb. /

He watches another minute or two,
but feels her squirming next to him. / She asks him to leave / and turns up
the aisle, head down, until she reaches the mezzanine. / He grabs their coats
and follows, thinking of joy / and how it’s always balanced with its opposite,
/ this moment one she will never share without much suffering / with their
son or their daughter to come, / as though she was responsible for this new
life / being booed from the start.

Kiss Cam Fail

Small World

Another knock, another nurse come to check on / her blood, to take it and
label it and spin it in a centrifuge, / separate each part for analysis to see / if
her TPN needs a new recipe. A dash more sodium, / maybe potassium, a
bump in lipids to plump / what’s still so gaunt and dehydrated. But three
sticks / still can’t find any vein’s X, /

so flustered, the nurse small-talks
them both / to distract them from her mistakes or calm herself, / the man
can’t say, but it works. The three native Midwesterners / compare south to
north: customs, food, people. / She sells them on the rarity of digging a car /
from a three-foot snowdrift as the vials fill red. / She mentions how she and
her husband adopted / Volunteers basketball, men’s and women’s, cut off as
they are from their Hoosiers. / He mentions they enjoyed the game they
went to / so soon after finding out about this child. His wife / adds how
they had to leave because of the Kiss-Cam. /

That was you? the nurse says.
My husband and I / were at that game. We saw you two. / He fake-calculates the
odds, settles on some / very, very large number to one. He sees his wife’s
cheeks redden / for the first time in a long while when she replies, / I didn’t
know. I was trying to win a basketball.
/ He sees she’s somewhere else. Maybe
she’s wondering / how one person she’s never met before could be part / of
two such low moments, then how she’d take back / that one not-kiss if she
had any power. / Though he can think of a dozen thoughts filling her, / he
refuses to guess further. Shame has carried her / somewhere sickness hasn’t



Photo by truthaboutit