History of Love
In Tinnis on the banks of the Nile
carved on walls of ancient temples,
we are at play.
I admire the orderly progression of your stroke,
the rhythm of your swing,
the unpredictable flight of the bounce
and soft drop at my feet.
Face closed over the ball,
wrist and forearm one with the racket,
I tempt the ball with sheep’s gut
to a sweet spot the size of my palm.
Like Henry VIII and his courtesan,
we are addicted to the subtle dance of forehand and backhand.
Knees bent and bodies coiled,
in defiance of the Pope and Parisian priests,
what is forbidden becomes possible.
Old ornaments of cheeks and chins wrapped in string,
vulcanized by Goodyear,
limn a path aloft.
I hit the optic yellow sun on the rise
and watch it skip,
leapfrog through the air and
return like the answer to a question.
You hit to my feet
and storm the net while
I retreat to the baseline.
I toss, serve, fault; toss, serve, double fault.
I wonder what it must be like to
smash, lob, and be in control.
in this game where love means nothing.