The young man, mid-depth in the seats
of my lit class has his head down
listening somewhere far off,
not to Wordsworth but the grunts of language
that sound like basketballs hitting the gym floor.
He will start tonight against Butte College.
He scratches a sketch in his player’s notebook,
his fingers wrap the pencil
the way I imagine they wrap
the threads of the net when he ties it to a rim,
or pulls tight the laces of his shoes.
His cheeks are still taut and soft
against the bone of his face, angelic,
the long wrist and slender hands
with those fingers that dribble and pass
and wrap the pencil again so lightly.
He will not go pro. He’ll finish
with 52.6 from the field and 68
from the line, no record in assists.
But I imagine him wrapping those fingers
carefully around the tube of a stethoscope
one afternoon, the bright light of his office,
lab coat and loafers; he drums his fingers
against the bird back of a small boy, listening
to the balls of air thumping inside the lungs.