He remembered the last thing he was trying to tell her just before leaving home...

"...Because Mama," he said softly
"all those eyes, all those other human eyes are on us,
and if I tug at the fold of cloth that rankles behind my knee
several someones see it,
and if I wipe the beaded moisture from my brow,
it gets locked away in a thousand strangers' memories,
as if the glow slips off of us like snakeskin
and everyone there has come to steal from us,
our movements, our gestures, each private moment —
all of our successes and failures
become snapshots in other people's albums,
and I often feel
as if none of it really belongs to me.

Sometimes I move out
onto the field
and realize I'm ten feet tall,
my nicknames are taken from classic texts,
glory descends and makes an ally of me,
and this game exists solely
to bear me out.

Then there are days
when I do not believe that I belong here,
when every move I make is labored, and false,
and I intone the earth below to open up and take me.

When I excel, they align themselves with me.
When I fail, they abuse me out of hand.
They steal my lights, my shadows,
and leave me empty..."

She listened, gathering in the threads of his discord,
tucking them all firmly behind her heart.

"I've tried explaining this to others,
Mama, but Mama:
When we go out there...
it's as if we were made of light..."

She looked at him, full of wonder, full of love.

©1998 Rick Lopez (text) & Art Becker (images)

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