What I Mean When I Say Basketball

        after Geffrey Davis

Not the purple and gold of the showtime Lakers, not

the way Dr. J rocked a baby

to sleep, not the wrinkled hands of Bill Russell weighed down

by silver, not the musculature of LeBron’s shoulders

or the way Kobe’s jersey sagged off

his lithe body, not even that, when I wanted to write an essay

about grief, I wrote about the time Westbrook missed

all three free throws, even though his name contains

running water, not even when LeBron yelled Cleveland! and I knew

what it was like to not only be from somewhere

but to want that somewhere to be also from you, not peach baskets

or gym shorts, or the way Steve Nash pulled his hair back

behind his ears so he could listen to the echo of dribble, how it sounds

like the middle of the word basket, not my brother’s closet

filled with Celtics green and lists of numbers and last names on jerseys

like years of his life, not my father’s knees that won’t bend

when he shoots anymore, not the anger at Kevin Durant when he left

that felt as real as the betrayal of Terry’s death, or Terry’s baby hook

shot, no. The court, a word for ritual love, its lines like maps

I was forced to touch to prove I could run, the bones in my wrist,

the doing something over and over again to try to get it right.