When the ball is held 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 somehow stop my sweat soaked bandanna from running into my eyes.
One serve means one chance to get it right:
indecision makes meatballs
smashed back in your face hard enough to leave a mark.
I walk to the table to face my opponent,
ball in hand I bend over and breath on it:
to clean it of dust
to lend it my spirit wind.
Palm up, hand drops
rests near the table's edge,
ball playing solitaire in the leveled center of my hand.
Body tenses as it comes to rest
my breath exhales as a single soft stroke to settle the nerves.
Gently, quickly I toss the white celluloid six inches into the air,
and as it descends racket smacks and sends it flying
a low drive down the line dead ball flat steady but still soft as she goes.
His return this time a baby faced blooper to my forehand:
confidence weighs heavy
my muscles remember how his racket's rubber imparts its own spin
unique as fingerprints.
My second shot: racket swings low to the ground on my forehand side,
my body crouches then motion
springs praxis: hand arcing up and through the ball
body turning in sync with left arm's new come flight.
Racket and ball connect, a SMASH cross table to his backhand
fast and low, spinning away to the far reaches of his flailing reach:
at points end at last he reflects on the the essential nature of foot work.