When the ball is under your breath
it is easy to underestimate the necessity for calm reason:
your hand must be held still
and your sweat abated.
You have mere moments to decide the course of events,
and only one chance to get it right: indecision makes meatballs
smashed back in your the face enough to leave a mark.
I walk to the table to face my opponent,
and bringing the ball up to my mouth
I impart my breath
to clean it of any dust and lend it my spirit wind.
My hand drops palm up
ball playing solitaire in the bowl that is my hand.
Body tenses then relaxes, exhale a single soft stroke from my lungs to calm the nerves.
Gently, quickly I toss the white celluloid six inches into the air,
racket smacks and sends it flying
a low line drive down the line dead ball flat.
His return this time a baby faced blooper to my forehand:
confidence weighs heavy to remember his spin,
to remember how his rubber imparts its own special stamp.
My racket brought low
my body crouches and motion springs praxis:
hand arcing up and through the ball
body turning in sync with left arm's new come flight.
SMASH cross table to his backhand
fast and low, spinning away to the far reaches of his flailing reach.
And at points end at last he reflects on the the essential nature of foot work.