Football Sunday, Monday and again, Thursday.
Fingers entwined I learn the line, the calls, the plays, the grime.
You revel in the stories of icy games and hard hits and blown knees and the simple broken skull, concussed into old age. I am privy to tales of brotherhood, friendships beginning with having someone’s back from just doing a job. I laugh as you relay the endless trash-talk mixed into celebrations on the turf and then lived again in the telling, years after the field went dark.
I did not know you in your jersey.
I did not know you in those pads.
I did not know your eyes on the target, that helmet scuffed with grass and dirt, the shoulder that did the work of two.
I did not know you then, that is as it should have been.
Beside me now, you share the plays, the mistakes, the stats to watch, the calls to hate.
Salt and pepper shakers, the remote, your beer- become receivers and offensive lines and movements that don’t change over time. Seconds after you grasp my arm and interpret the flag the talking heads send the same into the airwaves. I turn to you, amazed again with the echo of your own words broadcasting from the television, bouncing into our already called space.
You have my ear and I trust what I hear. You’ve been somewhere I will never be and this,too, is as it should have been.
We were not ready for each other in those days. We were not meant to be, back then.
We are who we bring into this day, the person we became from those times when we played and bled; the person we are now, pulled out of the pile, a bit battered but knit together with the stories of the glories we lived.
Lean into me, tell me, again, about when you were once there.