Boredom crouches on his ten-year-old shoulders,
both left and right
Little devils that hiss and spit discontent
He is a little asshole, in his big sister’s words,
tapping his microphone
Click, click, click, click, click-click
to wrestle his brain and wreck the Zoom class.
He mocks his online math tutor,
trolls synchronous Zoom meetings,
Hates, hates, click. click click click. Click.
He makes us feel
carry his cross,
share the spite
Except on the hardwood court
Under the hoop,
Balls and feet drown out
his internal censor
He is on the run
His brain calculates
the angle of a shot,
distance over time of a pass
high in the air,
launched full speed
at his hands
on the run toward the goal
defender’s spit wet behind his mask,
his own breath thick inside his mask, slipped beneath his nose.
The buzzer, the clock, the score
parents six feet down the sideline.
The referee, nearly six feet five, wears a black-and-white striped face covering.
He runs until a sidestich cripples him, then runs some more. He is good on defense.
Suddenly a teammate falls, clutches a shin.
I look down at my phone and look up
There is my asshole kid kneeling, his back to me, number 11.
9 boys kneel around the fallen athlete.
There is my son.
I know it’s the first time
He has been pulled into this gesture.
I feel his puzzlement.
I see his compliance.
This is why I am here, alone, in my knock-off N95 face mask.
This is why I drove to New Hampshire.
To sit on the floor in an airless gym, hot with the sweat of pandemic,
Surrounded by hard-breathing boys and girls
For this moment, my restless boy,
still, more than who he was.
He stopped the constant motor and
does nothing, nothing, nothing,
Losing by twenty points,
We laugh all the way home. So glad.