Portrait of an Artist as a Single Dad – Powder Puff

Powder Puff Football
I sit at the top of the stands
alone, watching high school girls
play flag football. Teens walk
across and up and down bleachers
confident their youth holds
promise. Weary parents sit
out their Wednesday night
no lonelier than at home.
Seniors huddle before a long
fourth down. Make it or turn
the ball over to the juniors,
staging a prevent defense.
Stop the big go deep, run
long, throw the bomb. Players
crowd the scrimmage line. The ball
snaps from under center.
The quarterback fades
away, arm up, faking a pass,
handing it to the receiver, cutting
behind her. Her long legs plant
and pivot as the defense surges
toward her. She rears the ball
back and launches it. Spectators stand
as if possessed by the holy spirit.
The ball goes up. Girls
rush and then pause, struck
dumb by the ball wobbling
above them in gridiron glory.
All watch amazed at the arc. “She
throws pretty good for a soccer player,”
the announcer says before gravity
and friction force it into
the waiting arms of a girl,
running full tilt thirty yards away.
Amid all the pony tails and eye
black under the gnat filled stadium
lights, I can’t make out my daughters.
I search, but my girls are gone,
running hard downfield, beyond
the end zone and past the goal,
leaving me at the top of the stands
cheering them on, even when
I think I should’ve stayed home.

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