I never played lacrosse
but I often feel like
my brain’s been cradled 
in the throat of a stick 
since birth.

My dad’s goalie stick
is still on the basement wall
at the old home. He still
shows off the scar he got
playing in college.

People would ask him 
if he learned how
on the reservation
and he’d shrug it off in public 
then fume privately to me in the car
or the living room:

our folks 
played lacrosse
and I wasn’t there

long enough to learn
even if we had

There are fading
teenage sketches
still on the exposed drywall
next to where the stick hangs,
the largest being one 
of an old man’s lined face, long hair,
eyes wide open, looking to my right.

I think I drew that face
one summer before
I gave up
that kind of pen forever.

I recall that summer
I rubbed witch hazel
over the mosquito Braille
of my sunburnt
forearms and calves.

The only way I could ever draw a face
was to have it looking to the right,
not head on or to the left,
and the face’s eyes
never looked into mine
or yours.  Always a little side-eye,
always indirect.

I never played lacrosse.
I’ve never lived on the rez at all.
I haven’t drawn a face in years.
My father is so very old.
I can’t remember how witch hazel smells.

I’m going to die one day and I 
will have to come at it faking all the way —
split roll dodge. That’s a lacrosse move.
I looked it up. I have had
to look everything up

except for the look in my father’s eyes:
always a little side eye.
Always indirect.

About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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