No tennis rackets or courts nearby we

invented our own with two straw brooms,

a worn yellow ball found in the park

and the edges of a broken sidewalk

along the street to mark the lines



Sweep the ball past the other broom

and the score was one to nothing



Mid morning mom appeared

after hanging the wash to sit

on the porch swing to watch us,

sipping slowly on a mug of black coffee

and humming a tune she sang

as a little girl on her family’s farm



Too soon it was time to set the table

for supper with dad and take turns

carrying the garbage to a tarnished pail

with an dented lid that reeked

of rot and maggots squirming

in their own cycle of life



Day after day we fought over the rules,

who cheated, if the ball stayed in bounds,

the game growing like ourselves

as complicated as the constant storms

of that shortened summer



Defeated by mosquitoes,

tossing in the wet heat without

fans or cooling breezes,

we ached for morning so we could

hurry outside before breakfast

to play one more round