One on One

It is the nature of this game to want possession
then to want to give it up
to get it back so you can give it up again.

 Nobody stops to ponder the ball, the way John Keats
pondered a cue ball’s “roundness,
smoothness, volubility”: its joy in being hit.

Imagine the score is tied, and I take the ball away
In order to sketch it, or incorporate it
Into some kind of quasi-tribal dance routine...

I thought we had agreed to play. I thought you said
We’d play and play all day, beating and being beaten,
Taking turns at losing, learning its advantages

for a young man’s character, then changing fates.
What kind of game is this, your going away forever,
sending word, years later, that you’d died?