She wondered how I did it, just walked up

and began playing basketball with a clutch


of kids in a strange city five hundred miles

from home on a station wagon vacation.


What my mother missed: my arms raised,

palms up and fingers spread, language


common to all courts: throw me the ball.

Somebody did. I took a shot. The game began.


Back on the road, she turned from the front seat

and looked at me. How scary that must have been,


her youngest child spurning shyness, opening up.

I thought about her today, the last of October,


her birthday. How she silently endured three sons.

Cards with witches: beneath the Happy


we’d X-out Halloween and scrawl Birthday.

Years later, an old man in Paris, I jog


onto a court in a park and open my arms.

A boy passes me the ball. I still love the feel


of pebbled leather. I loved my mother, too,

though she never opened her arms to me,


nor I to her.

What are you looking for?