Watch Fire

An Excerpt: A Boy Juggling a Soccer Ball

    after practice: right foot
to left foot, stepping forward and back,
    to right foot and left foot,
and left foot up to his thigh, holding
    it on his thigh as he twists
around in a circle, until it rolls
    down the inside of his leg,
like a tickle of sweat, now catching
    and tapping on the soft
side of his foot, and juggling
    once, twice, three times,
hopping on one foot like a jump-roper
    in the gym, now trapping
and holding the ball in midair,
    balancing it on the instep
of his weak left foot, stepping forward
    and forward and back, then
lifting it overhead until it hangs there;
    and squaring off his body,
he keeps the ball aloft with a nudge
    of his neck, heading it
from side to side, softer and softer,
    like a dying refrain,
until the ball, slowing, balances
    itself on his hairline,
the hot sun and sweat filling his eyes
    as he jiggles this way
and that, then flicking it up gently,
    hunching his shoulders
and tilting his head back, he traps it
    in the hollow of his neck,
and bending at the waist, sees his shadow,
    his dangling T-shirt, the bent
blades of brown grass in summer heat;
    and relaxing, the ball slipping
down his back… and missing his foot.

    He wheels around, he marches
over the ball, as if it were a rock
    he stumbled into, and pressing
his left foot against it, he pushes it
    against the inside of his right
until it pops into the air, is heeled
    over his head--the rainbow!--
and settles on his extended thigh before
    rolling over his knee and down
his shin, so he can juggle it again
    from his left foot to his right foot
--and right foot to left foot to thigh--
    as he wanders, on the last day
of summer, around the empty field.