Rusty Rim - Richie Smith
Before my father had them knock down the garage
I still believed I could become an athlete.
I believed I could train
with the best of them just like stocky Trey Gibbs across the street
who tackled me hard when we played football.
I believed I would have a basketball court like his
and I would learn to shoot hoops like him, modeling himself after his even more athletic and wiry older brother.
But I didn’t have an older brother. I had a younger sister
who sucked her thumb with a bammy and a father
who never learned to play sports because his father
died when my father was five-years-old.
My grandfather died
from a ruptured appendix in the days
when antibiotics were as primitive as the medical treatments
that could stop a twenty-eight-year-old man from dying of sepsis.
Instead of a basketball court with a proper backboard I ended up with a plywood
piece of lumber my father nailed behind the rim of a rusty hoop
that hung there like the discarded twist-off top from a tin soda can
in the days before they made cans out of aluminum
and didn’t have enough sense to keep the tops attached to stop the squirrels from ingesting jagged pieces of discarded metal
and mouth bleeding all over our sidewalk
like Trey Gibbs did when he smacked his mouth
on our rusty gate.
The rusty rim hung without a net.
If you took a shot the ball hit the lumber
like the septic grandfather I never met.