Fall 2021 Featured Poetry

Chamberlain Park

by Connor Lane

Two basketball courts, double rims.
Stout water tower down the slope.
Ball would bounce against the barbed wire
on a miss, if it bounced enough.
Yeah, here is good. I remember.

And she’s been talking shit for weeks.
That H.O.R.S.E. wouldn’t end my way,
and she’s a shooter
(she’s not).
Two hand release, pushing off one
leg, a half jump, land on one
leg. Arched back. Line drives
off the front rim, backboard, fence.

It’s summer and sticky heat hangs
from our shoulders, our fingertips, our lips.
Humidity pulls
my body and her body down
into the concrete court, dragging
into tree roots and acorns and
scraggled grass,
into the dirt of the earth.

I want to eat your lips
and swallow you whole
and “you’re too far apart, standing
all the way over there”
“I’m right here.”
“It’s too far.”
She bricks another and laughs.

Throws her arms up, pushes Spalding away,
loose crop top rises up the sternum,
to her collar bone. Flounces down quick,
no breeze to hold it. Now I’m shirtless.
Her replacement too long and worn.
Heat smothering air,
sunlight catching dust
suspended on the court,

lighting the Carolina pines, like
a wall between us and everything else.
We run and hide in the halflight.
And if I knew then, what I knew later,
I’d stay on that court forever.
Puddle and melt into the cooked
concrete, our arms around each other.

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