When the ball is under your breath
it is easy to underestimate the need for calm reason:
with mere moments to decide the course of events
I must steady my hand and stop the sweat
that has long since soaked my bandanna, from running down my face.
One serve means 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 with ball in hand I impart my breath
to clean it of dust to lend it my spirit wind.
Palm up, my hand drops and rests near the tables edge,
ball playing solitaire in the bowl of my hand.
Body tenses as it comes to rest, and my breath exhales as a single soft stroke to settle the nerves.
Gently, quickly I toss the white celluloid six inches into the air,
racket smacks and sends it flying
a low drive down the line dead ball flat steady and soft as she goes.
His return this time a baby faced blooper to my forehand:
confidence weighs heavy as my muscles remember how his racket's rubber imparts its own special stamp, its own special spin.
I swing my racket low to the ground on my forehand side,
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.
Racket connects with ball, sends it 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.