“In the Bleachers” by David Kelly-Hedrick

David Kelly-Hedrick


We stand on the sidelines watching our children play.
We cheer for our kids and against the others, though
we could try cheering for the other kids
and against our own,
or, we might join with the opposing parents
and cheer for all our kids,
and against everyone on the next field,
or against the team playing across the street,
or across this town, or over the border.
We could just stand there and watch as witnesses for all,
for the coaches, the beleaguered referee,
the kids on the bench, the grass on the field,
garbage collecting under the bleachers,
ants disappearing into a sidewalk crack,
the gathering clouds, the darkening fields behind us,
the houses over the hill.
An ambulance waits in shadows just outside the stadium gates.
A raccoon drags a wounded foot through the brambles
while a young woman weeps alone in the parking lot.
But those are pieces of our flesh playing out on the field.
Chunks of our hearts and gasps of our spirits.
This is their game happening here, playing now in this stadium built
in a hollow where regional winds gather and swirl.
I even feel guilty for tucking a paperback of poems into my overcoat.
The scoreboard sucks us into its frenzy of ticking seconds.
We stare at the gulf between home and away and hope
for a victory that will not be recognized in a single ribbon or trophy on the
shelf but will unroll itself across the flutter of years and pulse across palms
gripping a succession of hands and handles.
We are rooted to a cold aluminum bench, and our mittened clapping
sounds like another failed attempt at turning over the engine of a giant car.
Above, a pair of osprey have built a home atop one of the field lights.
They fly stick-gathering missions during the game.
We could cheer for the dusk.
It is coming. It is here.

from Rattle #27, Summer 2007


David Kelly-Hedrick: “There are so many great poems out here and each one is like a transit pass for the soul, valid, permission given, full access granted, to roam. I like holding onto these scraps of paper and the movement given. I like being in the swirl of poetry.”

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