The net is stretched tight for battle, swept court
& racquets & sweat. I have never lost.
But now I want your friendship, the sort I
can count on, whatever the cost. You wear
crisp shorts, & easy elegance of lawns
that never wilt & perfect hair, my gear
is second hand & I don’t want you to see where
I live. My parents work third shift & yours
read while their money works. But I can win
your respect with a ball slicing as real as rent
day over the net. I hope, expect one day we
will have lunch & award me the sorority pin.
We begin, soon the game is tied, eyes blind with
sweat, hiss of sneakers grip clay. I win by two.
You pause, I run netside for you, to shake hands,
but insouciant, you turn away. I won, but not won you.
It was always your game. This was my Waterloo.
Lynn Finger’s poetry has appeared in Night Music Journal, Ekphrastic Review, MineralLitMag, and is forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys and 8Poems. Lynn is one of the founding editors of the Harpy Hybrid Review, and also works with a group that mentors writers in prison.